By G. Krishna Mohan Rao*
New Delhi: Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCR on Monday served a 24-hour ultimatum to the Narendra Modi government to come out clear as to whether or not it would procure paddy from the farmers of Telangana State. KCR warned that if the Centre failed to respond, he would take the protest across the country.
Following the ultimatum, the Chief Minister called a cabinet meeting in Hyderabad tomorrow afternoon to take stock of the situation. If the Centre does not respond by then the Telugu Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government may announce its future strategy as well as the road map for their agitation, sources said.
Leading a protest dharna at Telangana Bhavan in the national capital, against the Centre’s “unwillingness” to purchase paddy from the state, KCR made an all-out attack on the BJP government at the Centre. In the conclusion speech today he clearly hinted his plans to intensify the fight against the Centre on Paddy procurement as well as other farmers related issues .
The week-long dharna protest, which started at Mandal level on April 4, 2022, in Telangana, by the entire rank and file of the TRS party, culminated here, today, at Telangana Bhavan with KCR leading from the front. About 1500 party leaders from the State, including several Ministers, MPs, MLAs, MLCs, Corporation heads, as well as elected representatives of Urban and Rural local bodies, participated in the 5 hour-long protests. The TRS decided to protest in Delhi in their bid to raise the issue at the national level.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait also joined KCR in the ongoing protest over paddy procurement and extended full solidarity to the farmers of Telangana. Tikait spoke at Telangana Bhavan against the alleged “ discriminatory policy” of procurement of food grains by the Centre in Telangana State.
In his all-out attack on Prime Minister, KCR observed that the Centre is adopting a “pro-corporate “ policy and demanded a new agriculture policy for the farmers. He warned the Centre not to play with the sentiments of the farmers as they have the power to topple the government. Farmers are not beggars and they have the right to seek minimum support price for their produce, KCR said. He was critical of the Centre for “misusing” institutions like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED) and others against their political rivals.
He described the Modi government at the Centre as “shadyantra” (conspiracy) not “Janatanthra” (rule of the people). KCR also felt that there is a strong need for like-minded forces to unite at the Centre to take on the BJP. To begin with, the anti-BJP forces must unite from the time of the coming Presidential elections in July this year.
Speaking in Hindi all through his speech, KCR hinted at his willingness to come to Delhi and take on Modi led BJP government. He was critical of BJP governance at the Centre on a number of issues.
KCR took on the Food and Consumer Affairs minister Piyush Goel for “intemperate” language used by him when several TRS delegations from Telengana met him over procurement during the last two weeks. He hinted that the week-long dharna programme was launched on April 4, after the ministerial delegation returned empty-handed from Delhi after meeting Piyush Goel.
Earlier, several other senior party leaders spoke at the protest rally demanding for uniform procurement policy, including TRS Parliamentary Party leader K Keshava Rao and the Agriculture Minister Niranjan Reddy. Foodgrains produced in the State have doubled but the Centre is not purchasing them and adhering to a non-uniform procurement policy and indulging in “step-motherly treatment”, speakers observed. They wanted the Centre to procure the entire parboiled rice from the State. But the Centre has been maintaining that it can procure only raw rice, not the parboiled rice, members pointed out.
Finally, KCR urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Piyush Goel to respond to the state’s demand on paddy procurement within 24 hours. While KCR was addressing, recorded tv tapes of the BJP leaders, including Union Minister Kishan Reddy, were played at the dharna assuring the farmers that they would buy all the food grains produced by the farmers.