NATIONAL

Deve Gowda concerned over cane-growers' plight

NEW DELHI DEC. 7. The former Prime Minister, H. D. Deve Gowda, today expressed concern over the plight of sugarcane growers in the country, particularly in Uttar Pradesh where some farmers burnt the produce, and sought the intervention of the Centre.

Mr. Gowda said the farmers in Uttar Pradesh were forced to destroy their crops because of non-cooperation by the State Government and exploitation by the mill owners.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr. Gowda charged that the Mayawati Government was `colluding' with the sugar mills. "It is the responsibility of the Prime Minister, the leader of the Opposition and the Agriculture Minister to protect the interest of farmers in Uttar Pradesh,'' he said.

The former Prime Minister said he would raise the issue in Parliament and was of the view that the Centre and the State Government should present a case in a proper manner in the court.

Referring to the situation in Gujarat, Mr. Gowda said the Bharatiya Janata Party was using the `Hindutva card' since it found the going difficult. He said the BJP had decided to use the card as the last weapon to retrieve lost ground.

The former Prime Minister said he would campaign in Gujarat for his party that has fielded 12 candidates.

The Janata Dal (Secular) is part of a secular front consisting of the Nationalist Congress Party, the Republican Party of India (Athawale) and the Samajwadi Janata Party. However, he said, his party would not oppose candidates put up by secular parties.

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