Bhubaneswar: Accusing the BJD government in Odisha of adopting "anti-farmer" policies, the opposition Congress on Saturday walked out of the Assembly protesting the Agriculture Minister`s refusal to announce pension for agrarians and bonus on paddy sale.
"Odisha government has not taken any decision to provide pension for farmers and bonus on paddy," Agriculture Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said while replying to an adjournment motion debate on the subject.
Asking Congress MLAs to put pressure on UPA government to hike Minimum Support Price (MSP) on paddy to at least Rs 1,400 from Rs 1,250 per quintal, the minister claimed no state in the country had announced bonus on paddy.
"If you (Congress MLAs) are really interested for the betterment of farmers, please take up the matter of raising the MSP. When the Centre increased MSP of wheat, it did not bother to think of farmers cultivating paddy," he said.
Rejecting opposition charge against BJD government, Mishra said agricultural production has increased in Odisha during the 11th plan. "This indicates that the state government is serious about the welfare of farmers," he said.
Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan, however, claimed that Kerala and Uttar Pradesh have made provisions of pension for farmers.
"If MLAs get pension for being a member of the Assembly for five years and government officials get the same facilities for working for 20 years, why not farmers who spend their lives in cultivation," Harichandan asked.
Noting that many farmers have been migrating to other states in search of jobs, Harichandan said they leave Odisha due to lack of incentives to agricultural activities.
The Congress leader also slammed the state government for allowing agricultural land for industrial purpose. "The CAG in its report has pointed out how the size of cultivable land is gradually declining," he said.
Criticising the state government for making populist announcements like Rs 1 per kg rice with an eye on elections, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh of Congress said this government should announce pension for farmers and bonus on paddy.
"Farmers in western Odisha are already agitating. The farmers across the state will unite and oust this government if it did not announce pension for them," Singh said.
BJP backed Independent MLA Pratap Sarangi criticised the state government for ignoring the interest of farmers. "The BJD government may be by the people, but it works for the corporate houses," Sarangi said.