Farmers up attack on sugarcane price, PM promises relief
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Last Updated: Friday, November 20, 2009, 00:20
Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Under a combined opposition attack that stalled the Lok Sabha, government today promised to amend the controversial sugarcane ordinance against which growers from northern states converged here in protest.

Outside parliament, thousands of farmers held a protest, paralysing key Delhi roads and forcing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to review the pricing ordinance.

As slogan-shouting farmers from Uttar Pradesh gathered in the capital, traffic on all roads leading to Jantar Mantar, the 17th century observatory in the heart of the capital, came to a standstill.

Farmers are protesting the government proposal to table an amendment that will raise the sugarcane prices from about Rs.108 to Rs.129.85 per quintal. They say this is insufficient compared to the rise in sugar prices. They are demanding Rs.280 per quintal for their produce.

Inside the Lok Sabha, all parliamentary work also came to standstill as opposition members raised slogans and demanded fair sugarcane price for farmers. Speaker Meira Kumar first adjourned the house till noon after a group of MPs led by Samajwadi Party's Mulayam Singh Yadav and former agriculture minister Ajit Singh (Rashtriya Lok Dal) gathered near her podium protesting the government's low sugarcane prices.

DMK, a key UPA ally, joined the demand for a review of the ordinance as the opposition stalled proceedings in the Lok Sabha on the issue leading to its adjournament on the first day of the winter session.

With political temperatures rising on the issue, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said suitable amendment would be made to the Ordinance if it went against interests of farmers.

"We will not do anything that goes against the farmers. The government will look into the matter again and if it is in the interest of farmers the Ordinance will be suitably amended", Prime Minister told Rahul Gandhi who met him in the backdrop of a massive farmers' agitation here.

The government's response came as a determined opposition stepped up its agitation against the Ordinance brought by the Centre and to press for withdrawal of uniform price of sugarcane.

As main opposition BJP, Samajwadi Party, Left parties, JD (U),JD (S), RJD and Rashtriya Lok Dal disrupted the proceedings of the Lok Sabha, DMK, too, voiced its opposition to the Ordinance.

The Sugarcane Control (Amendment) Order 2009 Ordinance has changed the sugarcane pricing policy, fixing a uniform Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) which would put the burden on states if they choose to pay more than FRP to farmers.

The Prime Minister's assurance came on a day of hectic consultations in the government that saw senior cabinet ministers P Chidambaram and M Veerapa Moily having detailed discussion with Food and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on the issue. The Prime Minister is also believed to have a word with Pawar on the issue.

To hammer out a solution, government has invited leaders of all political parties for a breakfast meeting on Monday ahead of the sitting of Parliament.

The move by the government came close on the heels of the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee of the Lok Sabha.

The BAC meeting saw Deputy Leader of BJP Sushma Swaraj telling the government that her party has no objection to the ordinance brought out on the issue provided it is not used as a "pretext to deprive farmers of their due".

"We are open for discussion on all issues," Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal told reporters after the BAC meeting.

Opposition leaders have meanwhile said they would continue to stall Parliament on the issue tomorrow as the deadlock may not be resolved by that time.

Outside Parliament, hundreds of sugarcane farmers from western Uttar Pradesh today staged a demonstration here.

Holding sugarcane stems and shouting slogans, the farmers marched from Ramlila grounds to Jantar Mantar, the dharna hotspot in the capital, this morning.

First Published: Friday, November 20, 2009, 00:20

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