Opposition Congress on Tuesday strongly criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not meeting the Odisha Assembly Committee before the Centre announced the Minimum Support Price (MSP) on paddy for the 2017-18 season.
The farmers issue was discussed in the Assembly through an adjournment motion where leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra of Congress said: “I am in favour of condemning the Prime Minister for his attitude and not for hearing the plight of Odisha farmers.”
Supporting the leader of opposition’s statement, Congress Chief Whip Taraprasad Bahinipati urged the state government to bring a censure motion against the Prime Minister for “ignoring” the interest of farmers struggling for survival in the state.
Bahinipati also demanded agriculture loan waiver for the Odisha farmers and pension for them. Initiating the debate, Mishra said the Centre announced Rs 1550 as MSP per quintal of paddy while the farmers spend Rs 2344 to produce one qunital of paddy. Now, the MSP is less than the cost of production of paddy in the state, the Congress leader said adding that the Odisha Assembly had earlier unanimously passed a resolution to fix MSP at Rs 2930 per quintal of paddy.
To put forth Odisha farmer’s demand, Mishra said a House Committee was set up to meet Prime Minister and apprise him about the fact. “However, the PM did not allow a meeting with the House Committee. Can’t we condemn the Prime Minister for ignoring the state assembly,” Mishra asked and added that the state government had been unable to implement the decision of the assembly.
Mishra said Modi, during election campaign in 2014, had promised in the manifesto that the MSP of agricultural products will be made one-and-half times more than the cost of production. If the Centre implements BJP’s promises then the MSP of paddy would be Rs 3516 per quintal. But, that is not happening. “The Supreme Court has said that the election manifesto should not be just a paper. It makes promises to people before election,” Mishra said adding that no body has the right to mislead the people just to get votes ahead of elections.
The leader of the Opposition also recalled how a Odisha Assembly House Committee had met former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee over a drought in the state. “Vajpayee gave us a patient hearing. But, now things are different. No PM should ignore the issues affecting states,” Mishra said.
He also strongly criticised the BJD government for not sending the Assembly Committee to enquire on the alleged farmer’s suicide in Bargarh district. “Six months have passed since the Speaker had directed the House Committee to probe into the Khainu Bagarti suicide case. But, the government did not make any effort for the enquiry,” Mishra said.
The Congress leader alleged that the state government has not done anything to address the problems of farmers in the districts of Bolangir, Boudh, Sonepur, Nuapada, Jharsuguda and others where a drought situation loomed large.
Opposition BJP also criticised the state government for not making any arrangement for House Committee probe into the farmer’s suicide incident in Bargarh district.
Rejecting the allegation that the prime minister did not meet the Odisha Assembly Committee, BJPLP leader K V Singhdeo asked the state government to inform the House on the dates and number of the letters seeking PM’s appointment. “Why Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik did not raise the MSP issue with the Prime Minister when he met Modiji in New Delhi,” Singhdeo asked. He said BJP MLAs had also supported the resolution that wanted to fix the paddy MSP at Rs 2930 per quintal, he said.
Singhdeo also criticised the state government for not being able to provide 35 per irrigation to each block as promised since 2000. “As many as 197 of the 314 blocks in Odisha has less than 35 per cent irrigation potential,” he said before leading a walkout from the assembly.
Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout said the state government was committed to protect interest of the farmers and therefore made separate agriculture budget and Odisha has a agri cabinet.
The minister said that he was not against a loan waiver for farmers if the real farmers are identified in the state.