Congress, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan threaten to intensify agitation
LUCKNOW: The Congress supported by the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan (RKMS) locked horns with the Mayawati Government over the sugarcane price issue as hundreds of cane growers from about 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh staged a dharna at the Cane Commissioner’s office here on Wednesday. The Congress and the RKMS have demanded a cane purchase price of Rs. 280 per quintal, apart from a uniform pattern of cane development incentive being given to the farmers by the sugar mills.
They have threatened to intensify the agitation if the issue was not resolved.
This was after the talks between the UP Cane Commissioner, Sudhir Bobade and representatives of the Congress and RKMS, including the UPCC president, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the CLP leader, Pramod Tewari and the RKMS convenor, V.M. Singh ended in a deadlock. The talks lasted for an hour. The Congress delegation had been invited for the talks by the Cane Commissioner even as the dharna was continuing.
In fact, the show of strength turned out to be a platform for Mayawati bashing and attacking the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party for “politicising” and “diluting” the cane price agitation.
Addressing the demonstration, the AICC general secretary and in charge for UP affairs, Digvijay Singh, assailed the RLD for trying to gain political mileage from the cane price issue. He said some political parties tried to undermine the farmers’ movement and misguided the growers to agitate in Delhi against the Ordinance ( on fair and remunerative price ) issued by the Central Government.
Stating that the Congress does not believe in farmers’ politics, the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister said that the growers were justified in demanding an enhanced purchase price. Mr. Singh warned the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister that obduracy on the issue would prove counter-productive for her. The Chief Minister must remember that she had been elected by the people, he added. The PCC president, Dr. Joshi said that the agitation would continue till the farmers were paid a price of Rs. 280 per quintal.
In his address, Mr. V.M. Singh recounted the different stages in the farmers’ agitation, and said that the sugar mills had the capacity to pay Rs. 280 per quintal as sugar was being sold in the market at Rs. 4000 per quintal as against Rs. 1600 per quintal last year when the mill owners paid a procurement price of Rs. 140 per quintal of cane. Mr. Singh, who contested the Lok Sabha elections from Pilibhit on a Congress ticket, said the farmers would not dilute their demand.
He said while the SAP by the UP Government had been fixed at Rs. 170, Rs. 165 and Rs. 162.50 per quintal on different varieties of cane, in Uttarakhand, where the recovery of sugar and cost of production was similar to that of UP, the SAP was Rs. 192.50 and Rs. 197.50 respectively. Referring to the demands, the Cane Commissioner told journalists that orders were issued to the divisional commissioners on November 26, 2009 that they should ensure that the incentives by the mill owners were mentioned on cane purchase slips and Form C.