New Delhi: Terming the MSP for farmers produce announced by the Narendra Modi government as "too little, too late", Rajasthan Congress President Sachin Pilot has said that the government must ensure healthy markets where the farmers are able to sell their produce at profitable margins and the Minimum Support Price (MSP) should be the last resort.
"I think it's (MSP announced by government) too little, too late and implementation on the ground is very sketchy. I don't feel that the farmers are going to be very satisfied with what's been announced," Pilot said in an interview to CNN-News18.
He stressed that ideally the farmers should be able to sell their produce at higher prices than the MSP, which should be the last resort.
"When the Congress was in the government, the MSP was not that much relevant because the market condition were so good that farmers were able to sell their produce at much higher price than the MSP. MSP is the last resort at a time when the market price are crashing. If the market price is higher than the MSP, that's more beneficial to the farmer," he said.
Alleging that the BJP at both the Centre and the states has "always over promised and under delivered", Pilot said that his party can act as a "pivot" around which all the opposition parties can unite to oust the NDA in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
"The regional parties are very important players in their own states. But a party that can take the BJP head on nationally is the Congress. The Congress can be the pivot around which other parties can come together," he said.
He said that the Congress' move in Karnataka to concede Chief Minister's post to a smaller party despite having more seats would send a very positive message among the opposition parties.
"If we support a smaller party, it gives a lot of confidence to the other non-BJP parties across India that the Congress is not focusing only on getting into the power. It's about sharing the platforms, about running coalitions, about holding hands together to make sure that we have a formidable challenge to BJP in 2019," he said.
On the question of many regional party leaders apparently not being comfortable dealing with Congress President Rahul Gandhi, and would instead prefer his mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi, Pilot said: "It's absolutely, I think, false for us to think that any opposition party or any leader (is not comfortable talking to Rahul Gandhi). It's all about numbers. Once you have the numbers, everybody will communicate."
He added that as Congress President, Rahul Gandhi has "worked hard".
"And mind you, I don't know of any other opposition leader who has asked tough questions to Prime Minister Modi and BJP government. And when he asks open, direct questions about the failures of the BJP government, it energizes not just the Congress workers but all opposition party workers across the spectrum," Pilot added.
Targeting Rajasthan's Vasundhra Raje government, Pilot said: "I think they have not only squandered the mandate but to my mind they have actually done injustice with people because she had BJP government in Delhi, she had a state government, a lot much could have been done. But the priorities were wrong in Rajasthan."
He alleged that corruption is rampant in the state
"In Rajasthan the government agencies are not procuring grais at MSP. There is a cartel between the black markets and the hoarders. So the farmers go to the mandi, he spends four days there with his food grains to sell to the government agencies. They come and say the colour is not good enough, the weight is not good enough and they find reasons to not procure that grain. Ultimately in desperation, the farmer is forced to sell that same grain at half the price," he said.