Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik joined BJD MPs, MLAs and farmer wings at a sit-in of the party here to protest against the Centre’s policies on farmers and demand increase in minimum support price (MSP) for paddy.
At the Krushak Adhikar Samavesh, Patnaik alleged that repeated requests to the Centre to raise the MSP of paddy to Rs 2,930 per quintal were ignored.
Later, a delegation led by him met President Ram Nath Kovind and urged him to take immediate steps to declare the MSP at Rs 2,930 per quintal to safeguard the interests of farmers in Odisha.
“The BJP came to power with assurance of increasing MSP of foodgrain as per the Swaminathan formula. I have gone to the Centre many times with this demand, but it has been ignored. It was promised by the BJP in 2014, but they have forgotten their promise after coming to power,” Patnaik said.
He said his government has announced a progressive agricultural programme called KALIA that will cost Rs 10,000 crore over three years, and that irrigation of 10 lakh hectares of farmland was nearing completion. “We make promises and keep them,” he added.
Asked about his party’s stand on joining the “mahagathbandhan” of Opposition parties, Patnaik said, “We will take some time and think about it.”
The sit-in at Talkatora Stadium was attended by BJD MPs, MLAs and other leaders and workers from Odisha. Speaking on the occasion, BJD leaders slammed the Modi government, saying it only offered “jumlas” to people instead of taking concrete steps for their welfare.
They said the MSP of paddy fixed by the Centre at Rs 1,750 per quintal for the current kharif marketing season was “unacceptable” to farmers of Odisha.
Meanwhile, in Bhubaneswar, the Congress and BJP protested against the state government’s paddy procurement.
The state government has been under fire with the Opposition alleging that farmers are resorting to distress sale because of deliberate delay in paddy procurement.
This is the second time in six years the BJD has taken its protest to New Delhi. The party had organised a Swabhimaan Rally demanding special category status for Odisha in 2013. —With inputs from Bhubaneswar