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Devbrat Patnaik

Sambalpur: The protest of the Odisha BJP over alleged irregularities in paddy procurement has further intensified with the leaders of the saffron party issuing an ultimatum to the state government to lift all the paddy stocks lying at different market yards within the next 72 hours.

Alleging apathy of the government towards the farmers, State BJP president Samir Mohanty, LoP Pradipta Naik, party MLAs and senior leaders from across Odisha have staged a dharna at the Sambalpur Town Police Station, where they were taken on Thursday after detention.

Palpable tension prevailed outside the police station today for several hours as a scuffle broke out between the party workers and police, exactly what had happened when they tried to enter the office of the Sambalpur RDC on Thursday.

Strongly criticising the approach of the State government towards paddy procurement issue, BJP stated that the Naveen government is insensitive towards the farmers and not concerned about their plights. On the other hand, the Congress and the ruling-BJD termed the protest of BJP on the issue as a 'political drama'.

"We have been assured that paddy will be lifted at the mandis. We hope the procurement process will not face any obstacle. Officials have also promised to do away with Katni Chhatni," said the BJP chief.

BJP MP from Bargarh, Suresh Pujari said, "The officials of district administration and revenue department are affirmative that there will be a positive outcome. The RDC too has apprised the State government, but no communication has been received from the government as yet. We have given them three days time (72 hours)."

Under PM Modi's leadership, the MSP of paddy has increased from Rs 1310 to Rs 1868 per quintal, despite this, the farmers here are not getting the exact MSP, BJP alleged while seeking an answer from the state government in this regard.

Coming down heavily on the government, the LoP said, "In as many as 11 districts, thousands of sacks of paddy are piled up outside different market yards due to lack of procurement despite being issued tokens. First procure their produce. As long as the government doesn't give any assurance in this regard, we will not stay quiet. We are ready to go to jail."

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra targeted the Centre as well as the State over the prevailing issues. "BJP government is at the Centre. As per law, they have all rights to procure paddy. Why are they running away from their responsibilities? Can they achieve anything by sitting at the police station? And is BJD has taken this responsibility, why are there reports of Katni Chhatni?" he questioned.

On the other hand, BJD leader Shreemayee Mishra taking a jibe at the BJP said, "Paddy procurement is being carried out smoothly in Odisha and has set a record this season. BJD has always been with farmers but BJP is shedding crocodile tears for brokers as the farmers are receiving direct cash through their bank accounts. The saffron party is trying to divert the attention of all from Delhi protests. The agenda of BJP and the drama surrounding their protest is clearly understood to the people of Odisha."

BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb also said that the Odisha government has already procured 23 per cent of more paddy in comparison to the corresponding period of last year. However, countering the procurement claims, BJP MP Suresh Pujari has said the reality is totally opposite.

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