While political parties in Odisha seem to be engaged in a blame game over the Mandi procurement issue, many farmers in the State now stare at an uncertain future as their paddy is yet to be procured due to token issues.
The State BJP today staged protests across Odisha over the Mandi mess and token issues alleging that thousands of bags of paddy are lying unsold at several mandis in the State but the Odisha government is yet to address the problems of farmers.
"We are fighting for the farmers of the State. Tokens of 5000 famers have lapsed. The MD of the Food and supplies department had ensured that the paddy of the farmers whose tokens have lapsed would be procured by June 30. However, not even a single bag of rice has been procured," alleged senior BJP leader Pradeep Purohit.
Bolangir MP Sangeeta Singh Deo lashed out at the Odisha government and said that most of the people in the region are dependent on farming and it is unfortunate that the ruling-BJD has been harassing the farmers who had voted it to power in the State over katni-chatni and token issues.
"We demand immediate procurement of paddy from farmers. Besides, we suggest the State government to give the power of issuance of tokens to the district administration," said the Parliamentarian.
Besides, the BJP has written a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and demanded to extend the validity of tokens by 15 more days so that farmers can sell their paddy without any hassle. They have also demanded immediate procurement of paddy from the farmers who have tokens.
However, government chief whip Pramila Mallick hit back at the BJP claiming that the powers to increase the validity of tokens lies with the Centre. She further said that the State had approached the Centre over the issue several times in the past.
"If the Centre increases the deadline, farmers can sell their paddy. They (BJP) are trying to hide their failures by resorting to such protests. They should instead demand the Centre to enhance the token validity," said the BJD leader.
On BJP's protest, Odisha Congress chief Niranjan Patniak said, "It is laughable that the BJP Odisha has called for a ‘strike’ for ‘farmers' cause’. They are the ones because of whom the farmers are sitting on an indefinite dharna for last several months."