Haryana BJP MLA stages dharna to highlight farmers’ plight during paddy procurement
The political blame game in Haryana over paddy procurement took a new turn on Wednesday after the ruling BJP’s Ambala City MLA Aseem Goel held a dharna in front of the Vidhan Sabha secretariat here to highlight the plight of farmers.
The two-time BJP legislator targeted additional chief secretary (ACS), food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, PK Das for mismanagement at the mandis (grain markets), leading to the procurement delay and insisted that his protest wasn’t against the government.
Goel’s surprising stance not only left the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP-JJP coalition government red-faced but the sit-in dharna also gave the much-needed ammunition to the opposition to further corner the government on emotive issues concerning the peasantry.
The leader of opposition and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda was quick to train guns at the state government. “The farmers have been bringing in paddy and other crop for past many weeks, but it is not being procured. The procurement in comparison to arrival is negligible,” Hooda claimed.
“The farmers are being harassed in the name of gate pass and registration...taking advantage of the situation, now private agencies are fleecing the hapless farmers,” he added.
Earlier, at the dharna site, the MLA repeatedly said he was not protesting against the state government. “This protest is against the ego and dictatorship of an officer, who has been working against the interests of the state government,” Goel said, reiterating that farmers, labourers and traders were being harassed due to delay in paddy procurement.
“When my people are suffering, it is my duty to voice their problems,” Goel said while lifting the dharna that lasted near an hour. He threatened to hold a bigger protest on Monday if the situation at the mandis does not improve.
Wrong to blame ACS Das: Khattar
His remarks evoked strong reaction from chief minister Khattar, who without mincing words, said the MLA is himself an ahrtiya (commission agent), who have been facing some teething problems with the transparent procurement policy.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function here, Khattar also rebuffed Goel’s vitriolic remarks against senior bureaucrat Das. “It is wrong on his (MLA’s) part to blame PK Das. The officers work as per the direction of the government,” Khattar said.
It is learnt that Khattar spoke to Das and asked him not to feel hassled with what the MLA had said.
According to Khattar, barring one demand regarding transportation of the produce, the government had accepted all other demands. “The ahrtiya have some problems about the steps taken, including direct transfer of money to the accounts of farmers. He (MLA) himself is a ahrtiya...I will speak to him,” he said.
ACS PK Das said, “The procurement process is going fine and progressing in an orderly fashion...farmers interest are uppermost for the government. The state government has taken numerous measures to ensure transparency in procurement and to eliminate ghost purchase that hurts vested interests.”
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- Kaithal superintendent of police, Lokender Singh said that some people were protesting at the vaccination centre and therefore the drive was shifted to the civil hospital.