Opposing the plan to sign FTA of dairy products under RCEP, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday alleged that the objective of international relations under the Modi government has become "collusion with cronies, submit to foreigners and kill the common man".
In a series of tweets, the Congress leader said import of cheap products under this pact would hurt Indian farmers and in turn cause rural distress.
"@narendramodi govt's proposal to sign free trade agreement of dairy products under RCEP is against the interests of our farmers and this shall be vehemently opposed," Siddaramaiah tweeted.
He said, "More than 10 Cr farmers are dependent on dairy farming for their livelihood. Import of cheap products will hurt them and in turn, cause
rural distress. Karnataka alone produces more than 86 lakh litres of milk & other dairy products."
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) - a mega Free Trade Agreement - is being negotiated among 10 ASEAN countries with their six FTA partners (India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand). The proposed deal is expected to be finalised and signed by the next month.
Accepting that the UPA government had taken part in RCEP negotiations in the past, Siddaramaiah, however,said the then Prime Minister Moanmohan Singh wanted some changes to protect the interests of the country's farmers.
"...but Narendra Modi keeping everyone in the dark is about to sign this agreement. Where is transparency?" Siddaramaiah asked.
Noting that dairy products of Australia and NewZealand are much cheaper and would make it difficult for Indian farmers to compete in the market, he said this would destroy their livelihood, which was strengthened after the white revolution.
"The objective of Int'l relations should be to enable domestic transformation by accelerating growth, preserving autonomy &protecting our people's interests.
Unfortunately, under @narendramodi, it is collusion with cronies, submit to foreigners & kill common man," he said. Welcoming Congress President SoniaGandhi's decision to support the fight against RCEP and raise this issue in Parliament in the interests of farmers, Siddaramaiah said his government had increased the subsidy to producers under the 'Ksheera Dhare programme' to Rs five per litre.
"We also launched Ksheera Bhagya to ensure full utilisation of excess milk and address malnourishment issues in children. FTA will only nullify all these," he added.
Siddaramaiah, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly, had raised the issue during the recent session and demanded that the BJP government in the state take up the matter with the centre and protect farmers' interests.