The opposition Congress and BJP extended their support to the state’s leading farmers outfit call for a 12-hour Odisha bandh on February 21.
The Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan (NNKS) has given the call for the bandh demanding proper minimum support rice on paddy, pension and prestige for the farmers.
Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik Tuesday announced his party’s support to the NNKS’s bandh call. “Farmers are our top priority,” Patnaik said.
BJP Odisha unit president Basant Panda said the saffron party will extend support to NNKS, which has been demanding pension and proper price of the agricultural produce.
Panda on Monday said: “The farmers have rights to express their opinion and protest in a democracy. The state government has time and again tried to throttle their voice. We will protest the anti-farmer policies of the state government.”
Meanwhile, the NNKS convenor Akshya Kumar told PTI Tuesday that the outfit has rejected the state government’s appeal to refrain from organising a 12-hour bandh on February 21 in view of the annual high school examination.
“We have given a 12-hour bandh call on Thursday. The government’s plea is aimed to foil our agitation. The NNKS is sensitive towards the examination and therefore vehicles carrying examination related materials will not be detained,” Kumar said.
The state government in an appeal to the agitating farmers body had requested it to refrain from the bandh in view of the annual high school certification examination.
The NNKS said it was “forced” to call a Odisha bandh after the state government ignored their “genuine” demands like price, pension and prestige for farmers. They have been demanding proper minimum support price (MSP) on paddy and other agricultural produces.
As question and answer sheets will be transported to different places on February 21, the bandh may affect the examination process, the government said requesting the NNKS to refrain from its bandh in the interest of six lakh students who will appear in the examination.
Kumar, however, said that they will not halt the vehicles carrying examination related papers. “As such our bandh will be observed during the day time and they can transport the examination materials after 6 pm,” he said.
The CPI(Maoist) have also supported the NNKS’s bandh call. The police have recovered banners at Baliguda in Kandhamal district where, the Maoists appealed to the people to support the NNKS bandh call and termed the state’s BJD government as “anti-farmer.”
Odisha’s Finance minister S B Behera, who also heads a ministerial panel to deal with agitating farmers, said: “The opposition parties dont have any other issue to raise. Odisha government is trying to fulfill the demands of the farmers and the bandh call given by NNKS will cause inconvenience for the students appearing in the matriculation exam.”