Telangana State Chief Warns PM Modi Not to Mess With Farmers, Stages Protest Over Paddy Procurement

© AP Photo / Anupam NathIndian women harvest rice in a field at Raja Panichanda village, on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011
Indian women harvest rice in a field at Raja Panichanda village, on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011 - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.04.2022
The state government of Telangana has repeatedly asked the federal government to buy the entire produce of the paddy fields (ie, rice) in the state. Recently, a delegation of ministers from the state government met federal ministers to make a clear announcement on the matter.
Telangana state chief and leader of political party, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Kalvakuntia Chandrashekar Rao on Monday staged a protest at Telangana Bhavan in the national capital Delhi over a dispute involving the procurement of rice from farmers of his state.
TRS' working president and a minister in Telangana state government, as well as son of the state chief - Kalvakuntia Taraka Rama Rao - and several other senior members of the party, and party lawmakers, legislators, legislative council members and elected representatives of urban and rural local bodies took part in the protest against the federal government.
Rao launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and set a 24-hour deadline for the federal government to respond to the state government's demand on paddy procurement and said that if the federal government fails to meet Telangana's demands, he will take the protest across the country.
While addressing the gathering, Rao said: "I warn PM Modi that you can't mess with farmers. Indian history is a testament that wherever farmers cried, the government has lost power. Nobody is permanent... When in power, don't treat farmers unfairly.”
"Telangana's people demand their rights. I would like to tell the PM to come up with a new agriculture policy, and we will contribute to that. If you do not do it, then you will be removed and the new government will make a new integrated agriculture policy," the TRS chief said. “If Modi has the guts, let him arrest me... in all humility this is my message to the PM and [Federal Food Minister] Piyush Goyal. Please buy our rice. I give you 24 hours; after that, we will make our decision".
He also said that farmers are not beggars, they have the right to seek the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait also reached the protest site and expressed solidarity with the Telangana state chief. BKU was one of the farmers' organisations that staged a year-long protest against the three new farm laws which have now been scrapped.

BJP's Counter Attack

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tried to counter the protest staged by TRS. The party had put up several posters near the protest site in Telangana Bhavan asking the state chief to step down.

According to media reports, a poster of BJP Telangana state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar read: "KCR, what is your problem in procuring rice? Why this dharna [protest]? Is it for politics or for farmers? Buy rice if you can; otherwise step down."

Why the TRS Staged a Protest

The TRS intensified the protest and reached Delhi after the federal government refused Telangana's request to buy parboiled rice in the present farming season. The federal government said it can procure only raw rice and not the parboiled sort which is not widely consumed in India, whereas the Telangana state government wants that the federal government to buy the entire paddy produced in the state.
The state government is also seeking a common paddy procurement policy for all. In 2021, the state government ministers met federal ministers calling for just such a policy.
However, federal food minister, Piyush Goyal, maintains that there is no existing discrimination between states on paddy procurement. He has alleged that the Telangana government is misguiding farmers to stir up controversy and shift focus away from state matters.
Recently, TRS workers blocked four national highways in Telangana to press their demand for a "uniform" procurement policy in the country.

Existing Paddy Procurement Policy

The Food Corporation of India (FCI), a statutory body run by the federal government under the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, at present undertakes the procurement of wheat and paddy in association with state agencies.
Every year, ahead of the harvest, the federal government announces a minimum support price (MSP) at which the grains are procured. However, farmers are free to sell their produce in the open market if they get a better price than the MSP.
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