Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) president Mayawati has accused the central government of "deliberately delaying" the decision to withdraw the ordinance on sugarcane pricing in order to gain political mileage.
In a statement issued on her behalf, BSP state president Swami Prasad Maurya late Friday said the central government deliberately delayed the decision on withdrawing the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP), which was the root of all the trouble that culminated in a sugarcane growers' demonstration in New Delhi Thursday.
"It was amply evident that the central government had ultimately conceded what Mayawati-ji had demanded more than a fortnight earlier, but simply because the Congress-led UPA government did not want the BSP to get the credit, it allowed tensions to escalate," Maurya maintained.
He also did not rule out a Congress design to create a law and order problem in the state.
"The Uttar Pradesh chief minister was the first one to draw the prime minister's attention to the grossly low FRP of Rs.129 per quintal announced through an ordinance on Oct 23, which was like a sellout to mill owners at the cost of poor sugarcane farmers," said Maurya.
"What was even worse was that the ordinance sought to pressurise state governments to abide only by FRP as it clearly stated that if any state government fixed its State Advised Price (SAP) higher than the central government's FRP, it would have to bear the burden, which would not be shared by mill-owners," he added.
Maurya said: "Had the centre reacted to Mayawati's letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the agitations staged by sugarcane farmers under the patronage of various political parties would have been avoided."
"Withdrawal of the ordinance by the central government at this juncture shows that it was simply interested in playing up the issue for sheer political reasons, ignoring the fact that Uttar Pradesh government had fixed its SAP at an unprecedented Rs 165 and Rs 170 per quintal that was Rs.25 per quintal higher than last year's price."
He wondered why the support price of wheat, paddy and other items had been hiked appreciably over the past several years, while the sugarcane support price in the form of FRP never got a proportionate increase. "Sure enough, farmers had reduced sugarcane cultivation areas, whereby sugar production too had lowered," he said.
Referring to the active role played by Samajwadi Party (SP), Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the farmers demonstrations across western Uttar Pradesh and in New Delhi, he alleged: "The worst exploitation of sugarcane farmers has taken place during the regime of these parties in the state."