Upset over the issue of the plummeting prices of tobacco at state auctions, Andhra Pradesh chief minister (CM) Chandrababu Naidu severely reprimanded members of the industry. He even threatened to burn all the stocks of tobacco if the traders did not mend their ways. The CM was addressing a high-level meeting in Hyderabad on May 12, 2003. It was attended by officials of the state government, Tobacco Board, Indian Tobacco Company (ITC), Indian Tobacco Association, Tobacco Grower's Association as well as legislators from the affected region.
Even though ITC -- a major buyer of tobacco -- had promised on April 30 to maintain prices, the rates fell by Rs 3.50 per kilogramme. The dip in prices has taken its toll on tobacco farmers in districts such as Prakasam and Guntur.