Bitter memories of last Belagavi session come back to haunt CM

BJP, farmers plan stir over sugar cane pricing at Suvarna Soudha

For Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, last year’s winter session in Belagavi may not evoke sweet memories. One of the farmers protesting in support of a fair remunerative for sugar cane had committed suicide, when the two Houses were debating the issue. A judicial probe was ordered into the incident. But the report is not yet out.

The signs ahead of the session commencing on Tuesday are not too encouraging either, as Siddaramaiah’s talks with the protesting farmers over the same issue did not make much headway on Monday.

On its part, the BJP was busy mobilising its workers and farmers to stage a massive protest in front of the Suvarna Soudha on Tuesday. Senior leaders, including B S Yeddyurappa and Pralhad Joshi, will be part of the protest.

They will demand that the government keep last year’s promise of making sugar factories pay Rs 2,500 per tonne of cane they purchase from the growers. The prevailing price is not more than Rs 2,100. Belagavi is considered the sugar capital with 26 functioning factories.

As a precautionary measure, the police have formed a suicide prevention squad.
It has about 50 personnel, including women, who will act if anyone tries to take the extreme step. A farmers’ association is also scheduled to stage a protest over the cane pricing issue. The police have imposed prohibitory orders in a radius of two km around the Soudha.

Jagadish Shettar, leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, said the issue of protecting the sugar cane growers’ interest would be raised both outside and inside the legislature. The party is planning to move an adjournment motion against the government over the issue. “The government had promised to get Rs 2,500 a tonne to farmers. But it is nowhere near that even after a year. The factories owe lakhs of rupees to farmers,” he added.

Shettar said illegal sand mining issue, deteriorating law and order, seeking the resignations of four ministers - D K Shivakumar, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Mahadeva Prasad and Qamarul Islam - and drawing the government’s attention to lack of infrastructure facilities in north Karnataka are on the party’s agenda. Shettar said the BJP has no plans to boycott the proceedings of the House.

JD(S) floor leader H D Kumaraswamy said his party would raise the problems faced by sugar cane growers, the woes of the people of North Karnataka, illegal sand mining and illegal land deals in Bengaluru.

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