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Updated: November 19, 2009 22:25 IST

Sugarcane impasse: Centre hopes for solution by Monday

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Farmers staging a protest against the anti-farmers' policies of the central government in New Delhi on Nov. 19, 2009. Photo: V. Sudershan
The Hindu
Farmers staging a protest against the anti-farmers' policies of the central government in New Delhi on Nov. 19, 2009. Photo: V. Sudershan

The protest was organised by the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the Bharatiya Kisan Union and the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan to seek a hike in the procurement prices of sugarcane and paddy. The Opposition parties termed it as a "black law".

The government took a small step backwards and the Opposition a similar step forward on Thursday on the sugarcane price issue, suggesting that an end could be found to the subject that forced adjournment of Parliament and saw thousands of farmers protesting on Delhi streets and threatening not to return before getting their due.

Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee has decided to go in for breakfast diplomacy — letters were being sent to leaders inviting them for breakfast on Monday, when various issues could be discussed and suggestions made. The government hopes to find a way out of the imbroglio by Monday.

The breakfast invitation decision was apparently taken after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called a meeting of some senior Cabinet ministers, including Mr. Mukherjee, M. Veerappa Moily, P. Chidambaram, Sharad Pawar and Pawan Kumar Bansal. All-India Congress Committee general secretary Rahul Gandhi also met Dr. Singh.

Amid the developments, the BJP’s Sushma Swaraj rejected the government’s allegation that the Opposition was batting for sugar mill owners.

At a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee, Ms. Swaraj said it was not the intention of her party to benefit the sugar mill owners in any way by coming in the way of that part of the ordinance that intends to nullify the impact of a Supreme Court order under which the government would have to pay approximately Rs.14,000 crore to sugar mill owners as arrears from 1986.

The government, however, should not use this issue to hurt farmers by reducing the fair price for sugarcane. “We will support the government if the bill to replace the ordinance on sugarcane control is limited to counter the Supreme Court’s order on arrears,” Ms. Swaraj said.

BJP president Rajnath Singh made it clear that his party was in no mood to allow the House to function until the sugarcane farmers’ interests were taken care of.

Mr. Bansal was optimistic that a way out of the impasse would be found. He welcomed Ms. Swaraj’s statement on not countering the attempt to nullify the burden of arrears as a positive sign.

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