KCR deadline to PM over paddy issue at Delhi protest: ‘Farmers can topple govt'
Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR), who is staging a dharna along with TRS leaders in New Delhi demanding the imposition of a 'one nation-one foodgrain procurement policy', on Monday gave a 24-hour deadline to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to respond if the Centre would buy paddy from the state. KCR said if the government fails to respond, he will take the protest across the country. He also warned Modi that if he doesn't frame a new agriculture policy soon, farmers would topple the government.
"I warn PM Modi that you can't mess with farmers. Indian history is a testament that wherever farmers cried, the government loses power. Nobody is permanent... When in power, don't treat farmers unfairly," news agency ANI quoted KCR as saying.
"Telangana demands their right. I would like to say to the PM to frame a new agriculture policy and we will also contribute to that. If you will not do it then you will be removed and the new government will make a new integrated agriculture policy," the chief minister at the dharna site.
KCR said farmers are not beggars, they have the right to seek minimum support price (MSP) for their produce.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) working president and minister KT Rama Rao, many TRS bigwigs, including ministers, MPs, MLAs and MLCs also joined the protest.
The TRS has intensified the protest and reached Delhi after the Centre refused Telangana's request to buy parboiled rice in the current rabi season. The government said it can procure only raw rice and not the parboiled ones which are not consumed largely in India.
"With folded hands, I urge Modiji and (Piyush) Goyal ji to respond to the state's demand on paddy procurement within 24 hours. After that, we will take a call," Rao said.
According to news agency PTI, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait also expressed solidarity with the CM at the day-long dharna. This is the Telangana Rashtra Samithi's (TRS) first protest rally in the national capital after coming to power in the state in 2014.
Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has put up several posters near the protest site in Telangana Bhavan asking the CM to step down.
A poster of BJP Telangana state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar mentions, "KCR, what is your problem in procuring rice. Why this dharna? Is it for politics or for farmers? Buy rice if you can, else step down."
The TRS, making its demand for the 'one nation-one foodgrain procurement policy' a nationwide issue, is protesting against the Centre.
Recently, TRS workers had blocked four national highways in Telangana to press their demand for a "uniform" procurement policy in the country. On March 24, Union minister of consumer affairs, food and public distribution Piyush Goyal assured farmers of Telangana that there was absolutely no discrimination among the farmers from different states and added that some politicians in Telangana are misleading the farmers in the state.
Last year, a delegation of ministers from the state had even met Union ministers to make a clear announcement on paddy procurement, including the quantity.
(With inputs from agencies)