The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) will organize a Delhi Chalo movement demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, enhancement of MSP, and exposing the NDA government’s ‘great betrayal’ of farmers by staging protests in the national capital on January 8.
It may be noted that the BJD had not joined the opposition in the Kissan Mukti March at Delhi on November 30 addressed by Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Farooq Abdullah and several others wherein the same issues were raised. The BJD kept away from the opposition rally lest it branded as one among the anti-BJP front.
The BJD leaders were found searching for an answer when asked why the party had not joined the November 30 rally on agrarian crisis in the country.
Evidently, sensing that the farmer’s issue is fast developing into a major political plank, the BJD decided to go on its own and hold a protest in Delhi denouncing the centre for having ‘backstabbed’ the farmers.
Addressing a press conference here on Monday, BJD MP and party Krushak wing president Prasanna Acharya, Health Minister cum secretary-general Pratap Jena, MLAs DP Mishra and SD Burma said a special train will leave for Delhi on January 6 with farmers’ representatives and party activists.
Launching a diatribe against PM Narendra Modi and the central government, the BJD leaders said the PM did not find time to give an appointment to a Committee of the Odisha Assembly which wanted to meet him on the MSP issue.
The Odisha Assembly had passed a unanimous resolution demanding MSP for paddy to be fixed at Rs 2930 per quintal – the BJP members were party to the resolution. The committee sought time from the PM but unfortunately, he did not even respond, said the BJD leaders.
The BJP had promised in 2014 that it will provide one-and-half times of the production cost by way of MSP and implement the Swaminathan Committee recommendations. But it failed and then even refused to do so, charged Acharya.
Acharya, Mishra, Burma and others ridiculed the BJP for alleging that the Naveen Patnaik government had failed to safeguard the interests of farmers in the state. The BJP leaders who criticize us must realize that their own central government has praised Odisha’s performance and the state has been awarded four times in the last five years.
They went on to highlight the achievements of the BJD government in the farm sector – agri credit has increased from a meagre Rs 739 crore to Rs 33,000 crore during the last two decades of BJD rule, farm loan is provided at one per cent interest and Odisha is fourth in the country in food grain production. They pointed out that production targets have reached 50 lakh metric tonne.
Odisha is the second state in the country to have a separate agriculture budget and an agriculture cabinet, said Minister Pratap Jena.
The BJD leaders rebutted the claims of the BJP that the centre had increased MSP more than during the previous government. The claim is misleading as the calculation is not done on the Swaminathan Committee formula, they pointed out.
To a question on farm loan waiver, Acharya said the BJD holds the view that there should be a national level policy or waiver since the demand was being voiced in each and every state.
The BJD leaders said their rally in Delhi was open and any outfit or party can join it.
The party was however evasive when asked on its promises of 35 per cent irrigation in each block of the state, cold storage in each block, paddy not being lifted from market yards etc.