Piyush Goyal is known to be a very tough negotiator. Be it the RCEP trade deal, India-America trade deal, or India-Europe trade deal, Goyal has always proved to be a very tough negotiator. And this is the reason why the Modi government handed over the charge of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to Mr. Goyal after the death of Ram Vilas Paswan, as the nation burned with farmer’s protest.
Piyush Goyal has been able to bring Punjab, the state that has sought exemption from direct payment to farmers in the last few crop seasons despite all other states implementing it, on the same page with other states.
After a series of protests and letters, the Punjab government finally caved in, as the Ministry refused to procure grains from the state if direct benefit transfer is not implemented. “The minister has rejected our requests for exemption from the DBT route and we are now left with no choice. The minister said the State would have to make its own procurement arrangements if it wishes to pay farmers through arhtiyas. So we have no choice,” Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Badal announced after a marathon two-hour meeting with Goyal.
More than 33,000 Arhtiyas (the state has remarkably high Arhtiyas to farmer ratio because they sell the produce of other state’s farmers too and earn 2 percent commission) bagged thousands of crores of rupees from the Union government every year just for facilitating the transaction, are now protesting. They are going to protest after a meeting with Amarinder Singh, the Chief Minister of Punjab, who, so far, was acting as the agent of arhtiyas. “The state government has asked us to wait till some solution is found. But are going to shut our operations from tomorrow,” said Punjab Arhtiyas Association president Vijay Kalra.
Reported last week by TFI, when center through Piyush Goyal had politely requested Captain Singh to cede to the requests of implementing DBT — the state CM gave a cold shoulder by hosting a video conference meeting with representatives of the Federation of Arhtiyas Association of Punjab and pledging his fealty to them. In the meeting, the CM assured the middlemen that they will remain an integral part of the procurement system in the state.
“My doors are open for you,” the CM had said back then. However, once the center tightened the screws, Punjab had to give in and accept the proposal.
In layman’s terms, the DBT scheme ensures that farmers are paid just the right amount for their crop without a single penny going towards the arhtiyas, the scavengers of the distribution chain.
The direct transfer of farmer’s paycheck is expected to revolutionize the farming setup in Punjab which had been governed by the archaic process up until now, and the farmers of the state must thank Piyush Goyal for getting this done despite such opposition from the arhtiyas and their agent, Punjab government. Whenever it comes to tough negotiations, Piyush Goyal always proves to be the right man for the job, and he has proved the same this time, too.