Farmers’ issues: BJD, BJP set to take fight to each other’s backyard

Bhubaneswar: Come tomorrow, the two major political parties of Odisha – the ruling-Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and BJP will be engaged in a pitched battle over farmers’ plight at each other’s backyard. While it will be a show of strength by the BJD, which will hold a mega farmers’ convention in New Delhi tomorrow demanding hike in paddy MSP, the BJP on the other hand will gherao the Secretariat back home in Bhubaneswar protesting over distress sale and irregularities in paddy procurement in mandis across the State.

Though Congress had also announced to stage a similar demonstration tomorrow, the party has put its plan on hold. Odisha Congress leader Bibhu Prasad Tarai informed that the proposed agitation by the party has been put on hold to extend support to the Bharat Bandh call given by several trade unions.

It is pertinent to mention here that Odisha Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik will be leading the party’s agitation in New Delhi’s Talkatora stadium tomorrow which will also be attended by all his ministers, MPs and MLAs along with farmers. The party will stage a demonstration to press for a hike in Paddy MSP to Rs 2930 per quintal and implementation of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.

Patnaik will also hand over party’s memorandum of demands to President Ram Nath Kovind tomorrow.

“BJP had promised one and a half times increase in MSP of paddy. But they have not done anything yet, the farmers are suffering. Hence, the BJD will stage an agitation tomorrow,” said Patnaik after arriving at New Delhi today.

On the other hand, the BJP will hold a massive demonstration tomorrow in Bhubaneswar and the party activists will gherao the Secretariat. The party has alleged severe irregularities in paddy procurement in different mandis across Odisha and accused that paddy has been procured from farmers at prices lower than the stipulated MSP of Rs 1750 per quintal.

“Why Naveen Patnaik did not unite other paddy producing States for the cause? BJD’s agitation is only to hoodwink people and tomorrow’s agitation is a picnic for party leaders,” said Odisha BJP vice president Samir Mohanty adding that the saffron party’s Krushak Morcha will gherao the Secretariat tomorrow.