The rice has been boiling for some time thanks to political parties keen on using the distress of the famers growing paddy for their selfish ends. Small issues are blown out of proportions to score political points. The farmer who is the ultimate sufferer is confused by contradictory statements made by leaders of three political parties which are already on campaign mode for elections that are far away.
KCR on attacking mode
In his last visit to Delhi, Telangana Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, two most important politicians in the present dispensation. People of Telangana thought their chief minister is on good terms with the central leaders. Come Huzurabad election result, the situation had changed completely, or so it appears. The result was out of November 2 and the TRS leaders started criticizing the central government for not procuring enough paddy and the State level BJP leaders like Bandi Sanjay for asking the farmers to go for rice insisting that it is the responsibility of the State government to buy paddy. Etala Rajender says KCR is anti-farmer. Why did KCR spend more than a lakh crore of rupees to construct Kaleswaram damn if not for growing rice, questioned another articulate leader, Revanth Reddy, TPCC president.
Huzurabad was turning point
On November 7, five days after Huzurabad result, KCR addressed a media conference on an aggressive note where he waved a bunch of letters received by the State government from the Food Corporation of India, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and the Department of Food and Public Distribution (DFPD). He appealed to the farmers not to sow paddy as the Centre has not been procuring paddy in Rabi season. On the other hand, Sanjay has been visiting procurement centres stating that the government has to buy paddy and supply the agreed quantity of rice through the FCI to the Centre.
KCR camping in Delhi
KCR followed his media meets with a TRS legislature party meeting on November 15 where it was decided to hold Maha Dharna on November 18 at Dharna Chowk (near Indira Park) which he got closed soon after coming to power seven years ago saying that there would not be any need for dharnas in Bangaru (golden) Telangana. On the dharna day, Thursday, KCR declared that out of the proposed 6,600 procurement centres, 5,000 have already been opened and about 10 lakh tones of paddy had been purchased. He asked the Centre to clarify if it would buy parboiled rice from the mills which processed from paddy produced during Rabi season this year. In order to obtain this clarity, KCR has been camping in Delhi since Sunday for an appointment with the concerned union ministers.
FCI gives clarity
FCI had already given enough clarity in regard to parboiled rice. In a letter FCI wrote to the Civil Supplies Department of Telangana on September 8, it said since parboiled rice has limited consumption in the country and the DFPD has made it clear that FCI would not accept parboiled rice from KMS 2021-22, there is scope of buying. The DFPD itself wrote to the government of Telangana on September 30 laying down conditions for taking custom milled rice (CMR) pertaining to 2020-21 Rabi season. The central department had particularly asked the FCI to take an undertaking from Telangana government that it would not supply parboiled rice anymore. Out of the 50 lakh tones the FCI was to take for the 2020-21 Rabi season, 24 lakh tones have been lifted. The conditions laid down by the FCI have to be met by Telangana government for the FCI to take another 20 lakh tones.
Revanth Reddy was roundly criticized by his party colleagues for his self-defeating game in Huzurabad elections where the party candidate lost his deposit. The idea was to help the BJP candidate Etala Rajender win with Congress vote and humiliate KCR. In the process the Congress came a cropper. Revanth had taken about two weeks to recover from the bashing he got in Delhi meet and is now ready for the battle. Leaders of all the three important political parties in Telangana, the ruling TRS, BJP and the Congress, have been using the pitiable condition of the farmers for attacking each other. The TRS blames the Centre for not giving clarity on procurement of rice. The BJP, which is heading the Central government, says it is the duty of the State government to procure paddy and give rice to the Food Corporation of India according to the provision stipulated earlier. Union Minister Kishen Reddy says the union government would honour its commitments. He does not elaborate. Bandi Sanjay was aggressive in his criticism of the chief minister and TRS. He has been asking the farmers to grow paddy. The Congress, which has no burden of power either at the centre or in the State, attacks both the BJP and the TRS in harsh language.
The fact is that production of paddy in Telangana is not remunerative any longer. As Niranjan Reddy, State agriculture minister, said processing raw rice from the paddy produced in Rabi is not feasible as the percentage of broken rice in the CMR would be 30 to 50 percent. All the three parties should stop election rhetoric. Elections are far away. It is time the leader of ruling party as well as opposition parties stopped playing the game of one-upmanship and advise the farmers in a responsible way to go for alternative crops. Don’t play politics at the cost of the farmers.