Prime Minister Narendra Modi should not forget that farmers’ tears have forced out many governments in the past, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao said in Delhi on Monday. He was speaking at a day–long dharna attended by the entire State Cabinet and all TRS lawmakers against the Union government’s alleged discriminatory paddy procurement policy.
The Centre has refused to procure paddy from Telangana this rabi season reiterating its stand that it would only purchase raw rice and not parboiled rice which the majority of the State has produced in this season. He also laid down a 24–hour deadline for the Modi government to resolve the stalemate and threatened to take the protest across the country if the government failed to respond.
“Is it a crime to grow paddy,” Mr. Rao asked. “I want to caution Prime Minister Modi against playing with the emotions of a farmer. He should remember that whenever a farmer is forced to shed tears, the government has always been pushed out of power.” The dharna was also attended by Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait.
Mr. Rao, who has been lobbying to build an anti–BJP front sans the Congress, also said he will bring together all non–BJP parties together to fight for legal backing for minimum support price. He also said that while he is in Delhi on Monday only to speak on the paddy issue, he will be back soon to discuss presidential elections with the Opposition parties.
Declaring an all–out war with the BJP–led Union government he said, “Mightier governments than theirs have been ousted. Hitler and Mussolini have gone... are they here to rule for 1,000 years? Why such arrogance?”
Mr. Rao also accused the Union government of misusing the Central agencies to harass the Opposition.
He was equally critical of Union Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs Piyush Goyal accusing him of misbehaving and insulting the Telangana Ministers who have held several rounds of meetings with him.
“ I am not sure that he understands the ground realities of the States,” he said. Mr. Rao said the production patterns have changed in the State because of the policies of his government including providing 24–hour free electricity to farmers. He said instead of appreciating the Telangana farmers for exponentially increasing the produce, the Modi–government seeks to insult them.
He urged PM Modi to bring a new agricultural policy taking into account the realities of the States. He also slammed the BJP leaders including Union Tourism Minister G. Kishen Reddy who, when the State government was trying to dissuade the farmers from growing paddy, was encouraging them to do just that. An audio recording of Mr. Reddy’s speech was also played at the dharna. “
Mr. Reddy said “every grain will be brought by the Union government. Now where is he? He is absconding”.