By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, January 8, 2019: The three major political parties in Odisha – the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – on Tuesday took to the streets with an eye to garner votes of farmers ahead of 2019 elections.

While the ruling BJD organised a farmers’ convention at the national capital demanding hike in minimum support price (MSP) of paddy, the state unit of BJP gheraoed the state secretariat against distress sale of paddy and mismanagement at the ‘mandis’ (paddy procurement centres).

On the other hand, the state unit of Congress submitted a memorandum to Governor Prof Ganeshi Lal addressed to the President of India alleging that both the state and Central governments have turned a blind eye towards the plight of farmers in the state.

BJD took fight to Delhi demanding a hike in MSP for paddy to Rs 2,930 per quintal to boost farmers’ income. “The BJP came to power with assurance of increasing the minimum support price of food grain as per the Swaminathan formula. I have gone to the Centre many times with this demand, but it has been ignored. It was promised by the BJP in 2014, but they have forgotten their promise after coming to power,” he said.

Addressing the convention, Patnaik said his party will continue its fight for the socio-economic development of farmers of Odisha.

Patnaik said his government has announced a progressive agricultural programme called ‘KALIA’ that will cost Rs 10,000 crore over three years, further irrigation of 10 lakh hectares of farmland is also nearing completion.

“We make the promises and keep them,” he asserted.

“We repeatedly informed the Centre about the need of MSP hike of paddy for Odisha, but the Centre didn’t pay heed to our demand. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t meet the members of the House committee formed to discuss the paddy MSP with him,” alleged Patnaik.

Patnaik is scheduled to lead a delegation of BJD leader to meet the President of India to seek his immediate intervention on the issue of MSP for paddy.

On the other hand, BJP, which gheraoed the state secretariat, said the state government has no sympathy for the peasants.

“The state government is not concerned for the plight of farmers. They are only concerned about their vote bank. The anti-farmer policies of the government have led to distress sale of paddy,” said senior BJP leader Pratap Sarangi.

Not leaving behind the two major political parties, the Congress also took out a rally and submitted a memorandum to the Governor, which was addressed to the President.

“Both Naveen Patnaik government at the state and Narendra Modi government at Centre are responsible for the suffering of the farmers in the state. We demand they should declare a farm loan waiver, a bonus of Rs 750 per quintal of paddy and hike the MSP to Rs 2,930 per quintal,” said Amiya Patnaik, Congress’ farmers’ wing president.

Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee president Niranjan Patnaik said the BJD leaders have gone to New Delhi for a picnic.

“Today Naveen Patnaik and Co are going on a picnic to Delhi which costs Rs 52 lakh, in the name of farmers. Had this money been given to farmers in debt, many precious lives of our ‘annadatas’ could have been saved,” said the PCC president.

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