No paddy from C'garh: Cong stages walkout in LS

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. PTI

The Congress on Wednesday staged a walkout from the Lok Sabha protesting the government's decision against procuring paddy from Chhattisgarh.

Adhir Chowdhury, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, raised the issue during the “Zero Hour” after Speaker Om Birla did not allow him to move a motion of adjournment to protest the Centre's decision.

The Congress government in Chhattisgarh is paying farmers Rs 2,500 for each quintal of paddy— a rate which is Rs 750 more than the Minimum Support Price (MSP) fixed by the Centre— as the party had promised ahead of the state polls.

This prompted the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution to decide against procuring paddy from the state on October 24 last.

The state government has been at loggerheads with the Centre over the issue.

Chhattishgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel recently wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlining that the bonus paid by the state to farmers in addition to the MSP had resulted in “prosperity and accelerated development in rural areas” in the state.

The Congress alleged that the Modi government is punishing people, particularly the farmers of Chhattisgarh, only because they voted the BJP out of power in the state in the November 2018 Assembly elections.

Chowdhury alleged that the Modi government had been pursuing a discriminatory approach towards Chhattisgarh ever since the Congress had returned to power in the state.

“The government has stopped procuring paddy from Chhattisgarh because it is a Congress-ruled state,” he said, amid “shame, shame” clamour by Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and other party MPs.

Chowdhury was countered by BJP MP from Chhattisgarh, Santosh Pandey, who accused the Congress and the Chhattisgarh government of misguiding the farmers of the state.

“Has the state government committed any offence by deciding to give bonus to the farmers in addition to the MSP?” Chowdhury said, foowling which the Congress MPs staged a walkout.

Chowdhury reiterated the state government's demand that the Centre ensure procurement of 32 lakh metric ton of paddy at the rate of Rs 2,500 per quintal in Chhattisgarh for central pool, which Baghel had earlier urged Modi to do.

If the Union government does not increase the support price, then procurement rules should be slackened, as it was done in 2017 and 2018, so that paddy could be procured from the state for the central pool and the state government could continue providing bonus to the farmers in addition to the MSP, said Chowdhury.

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