October 27, 2020

Farm outlet for JDU angst

New Delhi: The Janata Dal United on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to call an immediate meeting of the cabinet to discuss issues related to farmers in an intervention that sources said betrayed the Bihar ally’s increasing unease over its relationship with the BJP.

“The JDU expresses concern over the delay in announcement of minimum support prices for 23 crops for the ensuing Kharif. MSPs of these crops are usually announced within the first week of June but it has not been done till the month end this season,” party secretary-general K.C. Tyagi said in a statement.

“Since we are heading towards an election year, it is important to address all the farm-related issues with additional care,” Tyagi said.

“Keeping their (farmers’) benefit in priority now, the JDU urges the PM to call a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to address the issue with no more delay,” he said.

Announcement of the MSPs, Tyagi added, helps a farmer to decide which crop to sow to reap the benefits of a higher support price.

Tyagi also questioned the government’s method of calculating the cost price of crops to decide the MSP, saying there was discontent among farmers.

The statement from the BJP’s Bihar partner came on the eve of a proposed meeting between Modi and sugarcane farmers on Friday.

A government release said the Prime Minister would meet about 150 sugarcane farmers from across the country, in a planned interaction that is being seen as a bid to woo farmers ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections amid reports of rising peasant discontent.

Tyagi denied that his party’s “concern” over the plight of farmers had any political motive. “We are an agriculturist party and so we are flagging these issues. It has got nothing to do with politics,” he said.

The clarification, however, couldn’t stop murmurs in the corridors of power over the party’s unease with the BJP.

The JDU has been pressing for the primacy of party leader and chief minister Nitish Kumar’s leadership in Bihar and demanding a lion’s share of the state’s 40 Lok Sabha seats for next year’s election. The BJP has been silent on this.

There have also been reports about Nitish trying to reach out to RJD boss Lalu Prasad, which BJP leaders suspect is a ploy by the Bihar ally to put pressure on the national party.

JD(U) insiders said Nitish was “extremely upset” with the way the BJP central leadership has treated him and was trying to find a way to outsmart the ally by taking advantage of its dependence on him in Bihar.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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