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Naidu stages sit-in in Assembly

Special Correspondent
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Telugu Desam president has a spat with Chief Minister

FARMERS' ISSUES: Leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP MLAs coming out of the Assembly on Wednesday. — Photo: Mohd. Yousuf
FARMERS' ISSUES: Leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu and the TDP MLAs coming out of the Assembly on Wednesday. — Photo: Mohd. Yousuf

Leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu staged a 20-minute-long sit-in in the Assembly along with several Telugu Desam members after the House was adjourned for the day on Wednesday, resenting the government's tardiness in purchasing rain-damaged paddy.

The sit-in climaxed a spat between him and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on the question of who was the true friend of the farmer -- Telugu Desam or Congress -- during a debate on the issue of paddy purchases. It is rare for the Leader of the Opposition to stage a dharna inside the House.

Mr. Naidu, resenting the repeated criticism by the Congress that he neglected agriculture during his tenure, asserted that the power sector reforms he had introduced actually provided the base for the Congress government to supply free power to the farmers.

His government had paid full MSP (minimum support price) even if paddy was damaged up to 15 per cent (10 per cent now).

It was he who introduced the market intervention system to control the prices of essential commodities.

The TDP leader said amid jeers by Congress members that he was the only leader of stature at the national level who had undertaken an indefinite fast for ‘eight long days' demanding payment of input subsidy of Rs.10,000 per hectare. It was shameful that the government did not respond. “Are the 33 Congress MPs doing anything to help the farmers? If you don't know, please learn from us,” he said.

Mr. Kiran countered saying agriculture would have been alright if Mr. Naidu had taken at least 10 per cent of interest he was showing now. He was happy that the TDP leader had realised the importance of agriculture by undertaking the fast.

He said there was no need for the Congress to learn lessons from anyone on agriculture, recalling Mr. Naidu's famous statement that if free power was supplied to farmers, power transmission lines would be useful only for drying clothes.

The Chief Minister rejected Mr. Naidu's plea for payment of bonus at Rs. 200 a quintal of paddy, but accepted his suggestion for leading an all-party delegation to the Prime Minister to solve farmers' problems.

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