BJD, BJP trade barbs over farmers’ issues
Although Tuesday’s rally was seen as his attempt to showcase his political strength ahead of the Lok Sabha election, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik maintained his distance from the Congress and other Opposition parties.Updated: Jan 08, 2019 23:52 IST
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday hit out at the Modi government over farm distress at a rally held by his party Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the heart of Delhi.
Patnaik demanded that the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy be increased to Rs 2,930 per quintal — a demand, if fulfilled, will help large number of his state’s farmers.
Last year, the Centre had increased the MSP of paddy from Rs 1,550 to Rs 1,750.
Although Tuesday’s rally was seen as his attempt to showcase his political strength ahead of the Lok Sabha election, Patnaik maintained his distance from the Congress and other Opposition parties. When asked that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has demanded a farm loan waiver, Patnaik hailed his own government’s scheme KALIA and said, “The real solution to farm distress lies in the policy my state has implemented.”
The Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA) scheme is expected to benefit about 92% of the farmers in Odisha.
“The BJP came to power with assurance of increasing the minimum support price of food grain as per the Swaminathan formula. I have gone to the Centre many times with this demand, but it has been ignored. It was promised by the BJP in 2014, but they have forgotten their promise after coming to power,” Patnaik said.
Union minister from Odisha, Dharmendra Pradhan, however, hit back at the BJD. He said, “Agriculture is a state subject and mandis [wholesale markets] are yet to be opened for paddy procurement in Odisha.
“The ruling party (BJD) is in nexus with the mill owners, and as mandis are yet to be opened, farmers in Odisha are forced to sell their paddy at Rs 1,100 to Rs 1,200 per quintal. In a bid to shift the responsibility, chief minister has staged demonstration in New Delhi. But he cannot run away from his responsibility.”
Later, a delegation, led by Patnaik, met President Ram Nath Kovind, urging him to take immediate steps to declare paddy MSP at Rs 2,930 per quintal to safeguard the interests of farmers in Odisha.
( With PTI inputs)