New Delhi : BJP president Rajnath Singh Sunday sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get pending payments of sugarcane farmers released and ensure that sugar mills get on with crushing in cane producing states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka.
In a letter to the prime minister, Rajnath Singh also accused the United Progressive Alliance government of not helping farmers who had committed suicide in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region this year.
The Bharatiya Janata Party chief also said that government should not agree to “peace clause” at the WTO ministerial meeting at Bali later this week as India needs to protect its subsidies on a permanent basis for meaningful food security for its people.
He said that sugarcane farmers were facing a huge crisis due to “anti-farmer government policies and insensitivity towards the farming community”, and had been staging protests in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka for the past many days.
In UP, farmers have been forced to sell sugarcane at throwaway prices and a farmer had committed suicide, he said.
“The Uttar Pradesh government has compounded the problems by not clearing the previous year’s overdue payments of Rs.2,300 crore,” he said and noted that crushing had not begun in more than 60 sugar mills in the state, as well as a majority of sugar mills in Maharashtra and Karnataka.
“The central government needs to act fast and intervene to provide necessary relief to farmers, ensure that sugar mills start crushing and farmers are paid their dues,” he said.
Referring to the data of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) on wheat and rice, the BJP chief argued that MSP has increased nominally compared to the cost of production.
On the WTO ministerial meeting at Bali, he said the proposed “peace clause” would exempt subsidies “in excess of 10 percent of limit for a period of just four years”.
Total subsidy under the Food Security Act may exceed the 10 percent limit in the very first year, he noted, adding that the total subsidy basket would further go up as MSP and procurement cost rise in the coming years.
If India does not protect food subsidies on a permanent basis, the food security programme would be exposed to punitive action under the agreement for subsidies and countervailing measures, he said.
“The much hyped promise of food security to Indians would eventually come to naught if the clause is acceded to. The peace clause is not in our interest. Therefore, India should persist with a demand for a Food Security Box,” he said.