BJP workers scuffle with police in Sambalpur over paddy procurement
Bhubaneswar: The row between the ruling BJD and Opposition BJP over alleged irregularities in paddy procurement intensified on Thursday when saffron party activists scuffled with the police in their bid to enter the office of the Sambalpur Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC).
The BJP leaders and workers assembled at Sambalpur to protest against the State Government’s alleged irregularities in paddy procurement and wanted to discuss the matter with the RDC, officials said. The scuffle ensued when the police prevented them from entering the RDC’s office.
Thousands of farmers from at least 37 Assembly constituencies of western Odisha gathered at a rally addressed by senior BJP leaders, including the party’s Odisha co-in-charge Bijaypal Singh Tomar, State unit president Samir Mohanty and Leader of Opposition Pradipta Kumar Naik.
Coinciding with the BJP’s protest rally in Sambalpur, a delegation of BJD MPs met Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Piyush Goyal in New Delhi demanding immediate release of subsidy amount of Rs 6,039 crore pending for disbursement towards paddy procurement in the State. The BJD delegation said that it has caused a lot of problems for the State Government to undertake procurement of paddy during the ongoing Kharif marketing season.
The BJP, on the other hand, accused the BJD Government of harassing farmers by introducing a token system in the paddy procurement process. The farmers can sell their paddy in Government mandis only after getting tokens.
The BJP leaders alleged that farmers of western Odisha are facing problems and are forced to sell their produce at a price much below the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,868 per quintal. “The Narendra Modi Government has raised the MSP of paddy to Rs 1,868 per quintal, but the farmers in Odisha are denied the MSP rate,” a BJP leader alleged.
BJP MP of Bargarh, Suresh Pujari, said the State Government claims that it has procured 22 per cent more paddy than last year, but the reality is totally opposite. He also opposed the State Government’s announcement of ceiling on farmers to sell 19 quintal of paddy for irrigated lands and 13 quintal for non-irrigated lands.
BJD spokesperson Pratap Keshari Deb said Odisha Government has already procured 23 per cent more paddy as compared to the corresponding period last year. “The BJP is staging demonstration in order to divert attention of people from three farm laws being opposed by farmers across the country,” Deb said.