New Delhi, Stepping up protest against the Centre’s paddy procurement policy, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao on Monday led a dharna in the national capital organised by his party, and warned the Modi government to respond within 24 hours if it will buy the grain from the state.
If the central government failed to respond, Rao threatened to take the protest across the country.
This is the Telangana Rashtra Samithi’s first protest rally in Delhi after coming to power in the state in 2014. TRS working President and chief minister’s son K T Ram Rao and party MPs, MLCs, MLAs, and entire cabinet ministers sat on the dharna.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait also expressed solidarity with the Telangana chief minister at the dharna here.
Staging a protest at Telangana Bhawan here, Rao warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “…Don’t play with the sentiments of farmers, they have power to topple the government. History says that all governments have fallen whenever farmers were put in hardship.” “With folded hands, I urge Modiji and (Piyush) Goyalji, to procure paddy in Telangana like you buy in other states. We will wait for 24 hours for your response to our demand on paddy procurement. After that, we will take a call,” he said.
Rao further said that the country’s farmers are not beggars and are seeking minimum support price (MSP) for their produce. However, “injustice” has been meted out to Telangana farmers by not procuring the paddy from the current rabi season, he said.
About 15 lakh tonnes of parboiled rice from the current rabi season has not been procured from the state, he claimed.
Attacking the Centre for making contradictory statements on paddy procurement, the chief minister said while the central government asked the state government to shift from paddy in rabi season and when it was being done so, Union Minister Kishan Reddy and BJP State President Bandi Sanjay “instigated” farmers to grow paddy and promised to procure the entire quantity.
Rao alleged that his ministers and MPs were not treated properly and asked to wait for hours when they had approached the Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal to discuss the matter.
“Is this behaviour appropriate? Is this the seriousness of running the central government?” he asked.
The chief minister also alleged that the Centre’s policy is to corporatise the farm sector and demanded the centre to come out with a new integrated agriculture policy.
He further alleged that the BJP-ruled Central government was running a government of “conspiracy” and not a government for the people. Those who speak against it are sent notices from enforcement agencies like the CBI.
Rao also questioned the BJP leaders in Hyderabad for staging a protest on a day when TRS leaders are sitting on the dharna in the national capital over the paddy procurement.
Praising Tikait for the success of 13-months long protest at Delhi borders against three farm laws which forced the Prime Minister to apologise and withdraw the legislations, the CM extended support to the BKU leader for his upcoming ‘mahasangram’ to be launched across the country.
“Our PM is a master in seeking apology. He seeks apology whenever the election approaches. Recently, he apologized and he may do it again,” he said.
Highlighting steps taken in the field of agriculture in Telangana, the CM said after his party came to power in 2014, there has been substantial growth in the state but the PM never appreciated the work undertaken in the state.
Even 24×7 free power is supplied to farmers in the Telangana which is not done by other states, even in Modi’s home state Gujarat, he said, before going back to his home state.
Rao said he had come this time with a paddy issue and next visit would be a political one to discuss the President’s elections and to expose the central policies.
Expressing solidarity with Rao at the dharna, Tikait said farmers need remunerative prices for their produce and the BKU will support those who fight for farmers.
He also told Rao to form a grand alliance of Opposition to take on the current government on the farmers’ issue.
Tikait also mentioned that the Centre has not yet set up a committee on MSP as promised by the PM in November last year while announcing withdrawal of three farm laws.
The TRS has intensified the protest and reached Delhi after the central government refused Telangana’s request to buy parboiled rice in the current rabi season.
The Centre is saying that it can procure only raw rice and not the parboiled ones which are not consumed largely in India. PTI