With Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister M.K. Azhagiri strongly opposing the government’s new fertilizer policy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee have asked him to join them for a meeting here on Monday to sort out their differences on the issue.
Earlier this week, the Union Cabinet decided to hike the retail price of urea by 10 per cent and decontrol the price of all other fertilizers from April 1.
Informed sources told The Hindu that Monday’s meeting was aimed at ensuring some solution to the issue before a formal announcement of the new policy is made in the 2010-11 budget to be tabled on February 26 by Mr. Mukherjee.
During the recent Cabinet meeting, Mr. Azhagiri, who is the son of DMK president M. Karunanidhi, vigorously opposed the decontrol move and said this would greatly affect farmers, lead to an increase in the price of fertilizers and other commodities and contribute to inflation.
Sources close to the Minister said he had conveyed his stand and left it to the Prime Minister to take a decision. Mr. Karunanidhi has gone on record that he would oppose the Centre’s move if it hurt the interests of farmers.
At the same time, Mr. Karunanidhi clarified that the fertilizer price issue would not strain DMK-Congress relations. “Rather it would prove to be a fertilizer for the growth and strengthening of ties between [us],” he told The Hindu.