New Delhi, Sep 12 (SocialNews.XYZ) The Congress on Tuesday strongly opposed the government decision to reduce the duty on Washington apples, imported from the US, to 15 per cent from 70 per cent and sought its immediate withdrawal, saying it will destroy economies of the apple-growing states, particularly Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, which has already suffered a grave natural calamity causing damage and devastation to the tune of about Rs 10,000 crore.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters, Congress spokesperson and Chairperson, Social Media and Digital Platforms, Supriya Shrinate said: "Prime Minister Narendra Modi had reportedly committed this gift to the American farmers after the G20 meeting."
Targeting the Prime Minister, she said that he had said that he would impose 100 per cent duty on American apples to save Himachal Pradesh apple growers. "But now in a complete turnaround, he has reduced the duty to 15 per cent, which will spell doom for the economy of the apple growing states," she said.
Days before US President Joe Biden’s bilateral with the Prime Minister in New Delhi ahead of the G20 Summit, the Central government announced to remove additional duties on about half a dozen US products, including apples, walnuts, almonds and lentils.
These duties were imposed in 2019 in a retaliatory move after the US hiked tariffs on certain steel and aluminium products from India.
Shrinate said that this could not have come at a worse time for Himachal Pradesh, which is fighting for survival after widespread destruction and devastation due to natural calamity.
"About 14 per cent of Himachal Pradesh GDP comes from apple sales and now it will be seriously hit."
Similarly, she added, in Jammu and Kashmir, where the economy had started moving ahead for the first time after 2019 when there was a lockdown like situation, the reduction in import duty on apples, as well as walnuts and almonds will come as a great blow.
She questioned whether Modi was seeking revenge on these two states.
The Congress leader also pointed out that in US the apples are grown by big corporations, which get huge subsidies from the government there, while in India, apples are grown by small farmers only. She said, there was no point in giving such a gift to the US farmers at the cost of our own farmers.
She said, there were so many contradictions in what Modi used to say and claim while being the Chief Minister of Gujarat and what he is doing now as the Prime Minister of the country.
"What happened to the slogan of 'vocal for local'?"
To a question on a DMK leader’s remarks on Sanatan Dharam, she said: "The Congress does not need any certificate from the BJP on three things; which include nationalism, Sanatan Dharma and contribution to the freedom struggle of India."
She reiterated that the Congress believed in 'Sarva Dharma Sambhava'.
On a question that Union Minister V.K. Singh's statement that PoK will merge with India on its own, Shrinate said: "For a man who has served in uniform, for him to say PoK will be merged in India, is absolutely shameful, because PoK is an integral part of India.
"By saying such things they weaken the morale of our soldiers and the people living there. He should feel ashamed and apologize for saying this," she added.