The Indefinite Hunger Strike by the main Oppostion leader and Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu has left the ruling Congress rushing for cover. Addressing a hurriedly called press conference at the Secretariat on Friday, four Cabinet Ministers took upon themselves to defend the government by informing how the government has already initiated a process which will benefit the poor farmers affected by the recent floods.
The Cabinet Ministers, Kanna Laxminarayana (Housing), YS Vivekananda Reddy (Agriculture), Doka Manikaya Varaprasada Rao (Rural Development) and Duddilla Sridhar Babu (Civil Supplies), while criticising Mr Naidu’s hunger strike, appealed to him to give up the stir in the light of developments that took place to benefit the poor farmers.
They said that Mr Naidu has started his stir to be in the limelight and he openly announced in the house that he would fight to come back to power. While in power, Mr Naidu increased the compensation to Rs 10,000 for farmers' suicides but later termed it as a waste. They also pointed out that Mr Naidu had stated that farmers were committing suicides to claim the compensation and had then scrapped the compensation within one year.
The Minister charged that Mr Naidu had begun his stir using the farmers' issue as a ploy. They added that he was losing his balance as he himself admitted that farming was a wasteful exercise.
Legislative Affairs and Civil Supplies Minister Duddilla Sridhar Babu informed that the government has appointed the Special Deputy Collectors in every mandal to supervise at the sale counters, which will affect the sale of farmers' produce offering total Minimum Support Price. He said that a GO to this effect has been released and the Collectors and Joint Collectors have been alerted.
Stating that the government has already written to the Food Corporation of India and as their report is awaited, Mr Sridhar Babu said that the government in the meantime has made arrangements for purchase of even discoloured grains/paddy at the village centres without value cut.
The sale counters will buy from the farmers even if there was 50 percent damage to the grains, Mr Sridhar Babu said, and added that this was the criteria specified in the GO. He also appealed to the farmers to rush to the centres in the mandals and put their grains for sale immediately.
The Minister also appealed to them not to lose heart and confidence as the state government stood by them always. “Our government is a farmers' government,” he said.
The Chief Minister has already contacted the FCI and negotiated the bargain for sale of the paddy offering MSP to the farmers and they should not get discouraged that their produce is soaked or discoloured,” the Minister said.
The department will set up more centres in case the existing sale counters are found to be insufficient, Mr Sridhar Babu stated and asked the farmers not to resort to suicides in any event.
“In case of any complaints against the millers, the special deputy collectors should be notified and they would take care of these complaints,” he said.
The Minister also mentioned that the government will offer MSP on 10 percent of the grains without value cut. Earlier, the FCI purchased only 4 per cent, he revealed and added that now they are prepared to buy only 7 percent and the balance 3 percent will be taken by the state government.
In view of these developments, the TDP chief has been appealed to call off his stir immediately considering the latest developments.