BJP sees opportunity in State gutka ban

BJP sees opportunity  in State gutka ban

Close on the heels of the Congress government in Karnataka banning gutka citing a Supreme Court ruling, the BJP top brass here has sensed a political opportunity and instructed state leaders to exploit the disenchantment by extending support to arecanut growers.

The state BJP leaders are going to broach this issue with their central leadership during the national executive meeting to be held in Goa in a week’s time.

Though the areca growing regions, comprising coastal areas, Malnad and central parts of the state, were traditionally BJP bastions, several party candidates lost in the recent assembly polls.

Party insiders say that in the last elections, people from arecanut growing regions had backed the Congress as the party, during poll campaign, promised relief package to areca farmers who were suffering due to price fluctuations and yellow disease to the crop.

Instead of a package, the ruling dispensation went on to ban gutka leading to panic among them, a senior party leader said. They feel it is high time the BJP exploited the situation to regain its stronghold at least for the next general election, sources said.

“Though the BJP has no objection to ban gutka with tobacco and nicotine, the government should have taken farmers into confidence,” Pralhad Joshi, BJP Karnataka unit president told Deccan Herald.  

“The party will discuss the issue in its national executive meeting to be held in Goa next week on how to protect the interest of farmers”, he added.

As lakhs of farmers, traders, and workers were engaged in areca farming, the government should first talk to stakeholders and elected representatives before taking any decision on banning gutka, he said.

For the past several years, the BJP has been insisting on the Centre to implement the recommendations of the Gorakh Singh Committee, setup by the Union Ministry of Agriculture, on the welfare of arecanut farmers. Without making any efforts towards pressurising the Central government to protect farmers interest, the state government created panic among them by banning gutka, Joshi said.

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