Telangana CM gave Centre a 24-hour deadline to respond
The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)-led government on April 11 brought its protest against the Union government’s “discriminatory” paddy procurement policy to the national capital.
Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), along with his state cabinet, legislators, parliamentarians and other TRS leaders and workers, sat on a day-long ‘maha dharna’ at Telangana Bhawan in Delhi. Their demand: The Centre should procure the 1.5 million tonnes of parboiled rice from the state.
Raw rice is partially boiled and dried to make parboiled rice. It is mainly produced in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Kerala.
KCR gave a warning to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Hindi not to “mess” with the farmers. He gave a 24-hour deadline to the government to respond if it will buy the rice from the state on MSP or not.
He said from the stage:
Why did all the ministers, MLAs and representatives of farmer groups come here from 2,000 kilometres away in this strong heat? Why were they feeling so helpless? What sin did the farmers of Telangana commit? Was growing paddy a sin?
“I want to give a warning to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he can mess with anyone but not with the farmers,” the chief minister added.
He referred to the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal as ‘Piyush Golmaal’ multiple times during his address.
“I request with folded hands on behalf of Telangana farmers to Narendra Modiji and Piyush Goyalji that as you are procuring paddy from all states, please procure from Telangana also. We will wait for 24 hours for a response from you. After that we will make a decision about what to do. We know what to do. Jo karna hai vo karenge uske saath bas aapke peeche padna hai. Ab hum nikal padenge desh me aur dekhiye kya kya hota hai (We will be after you and take the protest across the country),” he said.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, who was one of the crucial leaders during the year-long farmers’ protest in Delhi, was also seen on the stage.
The Centre and Telangana government have been at loggerheads over the issue of paddy procurement in the state for quite a while now. The Government of Telangana has been demanding 100 per cent procurement from the state’s farmers, on the lines of procurement in Punjab and Haryana. Telangana saw an entire week of protests and blockades over the issue.
The Centre, however, had made it clear earlier that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will only procure raw rice and not buy parboiled rice from any state.
A delegation of ministers from Telangana had met the Prime Minister in November 2021 to raise the issue. The PM had reportedly told the state government that FCI will not buy parboiled rice.
Following this, the state government had asked farmers in the state to cultivate other crops, KCR said. Telangana’s agriculture minister as well as other ministers and all the village sarpanches were talking about shifting to other crops, he added.
“But then, two BJP leaders — G Kishan Reddy (a minister at the Centre) and Bandi Sanjay Kumar (Telangana’s BJP president) began goading farmers to grow paddy. They said they will buy the produce and asked them not to listen to the CM.”
He also displayed a video clip of Reddy trying to influence the farmers.
FCI will not be in a position to accept parboiled rice due to the massive stock of parboiled rice in the central pool and the states were apprised of this, Ashwani Kumar Choubey, Union minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution told the Parliament February 9, 2022. He was replying to a question on parboiled rice.
A cause in the memorandum of understanding signed between Centre and state governments stipulated that if the stocks of the rice procured by the state government exceeds its allocation under the public distribution system, such excess stocks shall be handed over to FCI by the state government, according to the reply.
FCI, however, shall have the option to specify whether such excess rice that would be handed over to it for the central pool shall be in the form of raw rice or parboiled rice to meet the overall consumption requirement of the country.
Meanwhile, Telangana BJP unit was staging a protest in the state against the KCR government, asking it to “procure paddy or step down”.
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