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Clash of views as Modi Government reduces import duty on US apples

Shimla, Sept 15

In a move that has sparked heated debates; the Modi government’s decision to slash the import duty on US apples by 20 percent has drawn both applause and criticism from political leaders in Himachal Pradesh. Chetan Bragta, a prominent leader of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and son of former Horticulture Minister Narinder Bragta, welcomed the decision, while Jagat Singh Negi of the Congress party vehemently opposed it.

Chetan Bragta, known for his unwavering support of the ruling BJP, hailed the decision as “farsighted” and accused Congress leaders of spreading misinformation about the impact of the move on local apple growers. In a press conference aimed at defending Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision, Bragta took a swipe at Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, accusing her of misleading the people of Himachal Pradesh.

Bragta emphasized the significant role that the central government’s decision would play in the country’s economy. To counter the political mudslinging, he pointed out historical context, stating that even under previous governments, import duties on apples did not exceed 50 percent, despite initial promises to the contrary. He also reminded everyone that the Modi government had previously banned apple imports from China and set a minimum import price for apples to prevent dumping.

While hailing the decision to reduce import duty and resolve World Trade Organization (WTO) cases with the United States during the recent G-20 summit, Bragta issued a stern warning to the Congress party, urging them not to politicize sensitive issues that directly impact the state’s economy.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Chetan Bragta has backed a move related to apples. During the previous BJP regime, he also supported the hike in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on apple cartons and packaging materials.

In contrast, the opposition, led by Revenue, Horticulture, and Tribal Development Minister Jagat Singh Negi, expressed deep reservations about the Modi government’s decision to reduce the import duty on American apples to just 15 percent. Negi argued that this move would inflict substantial losses on apple growers in Himachal Pradesh.

In a press statement issued in Kinnaur, Negi criticized the central government for progressively reducing apple import duties, from 75 percent to 50 percent and now to 15 percent. He contended that this decision would flood the Indian market with foreign apples, posing a dire threat to the livelihoods of apple growers in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttarakhand.

Negi called on the central government to reconsider its decision in the best interests of apple growers in Himachal Pradesh and other apple-producing states.

Noteworthy that this issue caught spark when during a visit AICC leader Priyanka Gandhi termed this decision by Central government as Anti- farmer.

Read:AICC leader Priyanka Gandhi Urges centre to declare Himachal Rain disaster a ‘National Calamity’


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