The Congress will protest on Friday at Rajkot’s Trikon Baug against alleged irregularities in the purchase of groundnut by the government, low prices for farmers’ produce and a “conspiracy” behind the incidents of fire in groundnut godowns in the state. In January, a godown in Kutch (Gandhidham taluka) and Rajkot (Gondal taluka) caught fire destroying around Rs 40 crore worth groundnut stocked by National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd. (NAFED). In May, a fire in another Rajkot godown (Shapar-Veraval) destroyed NAFED’s groundnut stock worth Rs 4 crore. Barring the Gondal fire, no FIR has been registered in these cases.
“Government has packed soil in bags and passed them off as bags containing groundnut procured from farmers. Real farmers have been left out of the scheme while middlemen have pocketed the spoils,” said Mahesh Rajput, officiating president of Congress’s Rajkot city unit.
“Farmers are forced to sell their produce in open market at much lower rate. Similar is the scenario in cotton. When farmers went to the market to sell their cotton, prices were quite low. But now, it is selling at much higher price. Who is benefiting from this activity? In fact, when government started procuring groundnut and cotton from farmers at minimum support price, traders withdrew from market. As MSP (minimum support price) became market rate, the traders then cornered produce of farmers by quoting marginally higher price.” Rajput further said that the central government had failed to keep its promise of offering higher MSP for cotton.
“While campaigning during the last Lok Sabha election, Narendra Modi used to promise that if his party formed government, MSP for cotton will be hiked to Rs 1,500 per kg. But are farmers actually getting it today?” Rajput asked.