‘Government not a rice or dal miller’: KCR’s sharp U-turn on farm laws
There is no need for the state government to purchase the agriculture produce as the new farm laws were being implemented across the country, allowing the farmers to sell their crop anywhere, said Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao taking a sharp U-turn from his earlier opposition to the very laws. KCR had earlier supported the Bharat Bandh against the Centre-backed farm laws.
The announcement comes days after the CM met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah in Delhi. Earlier, the CM’s party had voted against the legislation in Parliament.
The decision that the process of sale and purchase of agriculture produce would now be left to the market was made at a high-level official meeting convened by the CM on Sunday evening.
“The government cannot do it anymore. It is not a business organisation or trader. It is not a rice miller or a dal miller. Sale and purchase are not the responsibility of the government. It is not possible to set up a purchase centre in the village from next year onwards,” read an official statement from the chief minister’s office.
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However, the CM directed that the sale and purchase of commodities at the agriculture markets be done properly. He suggested that the farmers should not bring their entire produce to markets at one time but in phases so that they would get a better price.
During the last season, the CM’s office said, the government had set up purchasing centres in the villages and purchased all the agriculture produce on humanitarian grounds to see that the farmers would not suffer losses, on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
It said the government had incurred losses to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore due to purchase of paddy, sorghum, maize, red gram, bengal gram and sunflower. Though the government had paid Minimum Support Price (MSP) for these crops, it had to sell them at the lower prices in the market, as there was no demand for these crops.
Till recently, the chief minister strongly opposed the legislations on agriculture stating that they would harm the interests of the farmers. In September, when the legislation was introduced in Parliament, the TRS president instructed his party MPs to vote against the bills.
KCR, as the chief minister is popularly known, told his party MPs that though the bills said farmers could sell their produce anywhere in the country, in reality, they would enable the traders to go anywhere in the country to buy the produce. The bills would also help the corporate lobby to spread to all corners in the country, he had alleged.
On December 8, the TRS leaders and cadre, led by party working president and KCR’s son K T Rama Rao, took part in Bharat Bandh (nationwide shutdown), opposing the new legislations on agriculture.
The TRS president also announced that he would hold a national conclave in the third week of December and invite all anti-BJP forces to protest the anti-farmer and anti-labour policies of the government. He said he would build a nationwide consensus against new agriculture laws.
“We cannot afford to get into confrontation with the Centre at present, because it will affect the state’s interests,” a former TRS MP, who is presently in a key position in the government, said on condition of anonymity.
Telangana BJP state president Bandi Sanjay welcomed the change in stand of the TRS government on agriculture laws.
“At least now, KCR has opened his eyes and understood the reality on the benefits of the new laws,” he said.
Senior Congress leader and Kisan Congress national vice-president M Kodanda Reddy lashed out at the chief minister for taking a U-turn on the agriculture laws. “It is unfortunate that the government is shying away from its responsibility of purchasing agricultural produce at the MSP,” he said.
Reddy alleged that KCR had changed his tune after his recent meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah.
“He didn’t even bother about calling on lakhs of farmers who were agitating on Delhi borders braving winter chill,” he criticised.
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