Alleging grave irregularities in procurement of paddy, members of the principal opposition party Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Congress separately staged walkouts on the opening day of the winter session of Haryana assembly here on Monday.
Though agriculture minister OP Dhankar and minister of state for food and supplies Karan Dev Kamboj, while replying to calling attention motion on the issue, tried to pacify the opposition MLAs and held that there was no grain of any irregularity, the latter insisted it was a major scam.
CALLING ATTENTION MOTION
The calling attention motions moved by several MLAs from both the opposition parties were clubbed together by speaker Kanwar Pal. INLD MLAs, including leader of Opposition Abhay Chautala, Jaswinder Sandhu and Zakir Hussain sought probe by a sitting judge of high court or by special investigation team, though the two ministers made frantic efforts to address their queries.
The opposition MLAs alleged that since the BJP government had procured a particular variety of paddy (grade A) for `1,450 on bills, the farmers in actuality were paid about `1,200, hence a huge scam. The ministers held that there was no such scam and it was a normal practice among farmers, agents and millers to reach an understanding because of the presence of moisture in the paddy produce.
The Congress MLAs, including former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Raghubir Kadian, Karan Dalal, Kuldeep Sharma and Kiran Choudhry, held that the government ensured benefit to rice millers as the price had jumped after the procurement. They sought a thorough probe into the matter.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar then stepped in and enumerated all the steps his government had taken to ensure that the farmers were not at a loss. “The prices of normal as well as the said variety of paddy had fallen and (it was) sold between about Rs 900 and Rs 1,600 in different mandis of the state following which the government decided to intervene and sought an MSP for the said variety at`1450’’, he said.
Khattar, who was backed by finance minister Capt Abhimanyu and others including Dhankar and Kamboj, held that there was not even a single complaint from the farmers and that the state government was ready to undertake yet another physical verification of the millers’ stocks.
However, not satisfied with the government’s reply, the Congress MLAs walked out of the House. The INLD MLAs continued shouting slogans against government, though Abhay again asked Khattar to agree to a probe into the issue by a House committee comprising MLAs from different parties and chaired by speaker Kanwar Pal.
However, when Khattar maintained that he saw no possibility of any irregularity, the INLD MLAs entered the well of the House, shouted slogans against the ruling BJP and staged the walkout.