Farmers in Nizamabad district have been fighting against the state government to classify turmeric as a food crop and ensure a Minimum Support Price.

Seeking justice over 200 farmers challenge Nizamabad MP Kavitha in Telangana polls
news Lok Sabha 2019 Wednesday, March 27, 2019 - 08:35

While 245 agitating farmers filed their nominations to contest for the Nizamabad MP constituency in Telangana, the nominations of 12 candidates were rejected on Tuesday. With this, more than 230 farmers would be contesting in the elections to register their protest against the TRS government for failing to bring turmeric under the Minimum Support Price and for not establishing a National Turmeric Board. 

Nizamabad is the constituency of ruling party president and Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s daughter, Kalvakuntla Kavitha. 

Since February, farmers in Nizamabad district have been fighting against the state government to classify turmeric as a food crop and to ensure a steady price by offering Minimum Support Price. The farmers claim that the market price is too low and that they are unable to get back their investment. The demand for setting up a Turmeric Board is a long-standing one.

Stating that the sitting MP Kalvakuntla Kavitha has failed to fulfil her poll promise of establishing a National Turmeric Board, the farmers had carried out various protests which included a padayatra to Hyderabad. Police, however, had denied permission and imposed section 144 against mass gatherings or holding of public meetings. 

As the government failed to respond to their demands, the farmers decided to intensify their struggle by filing nominations for the Lok Sabha elections. 

“We were left with no other option. They (government) has curtailed all our freedom; we are not allowed to take rallies or protest on the roads. Hence, we took up this decision to register our protest,” Anvesh Reddy, a farmer activist who is leading the struggle, told TNM.

Given the large number of nominations, according to the norm, the EC will now have to use ballot papers to conduct the polls. Madhu Yashki and D Aravind are contesting from the constituency on a Congress and BJP ticket respectively.

Kavitha has repeatedly lobbied in Parliament and even met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the demand for a Turmeric Board. However, the TRS has accused the Centre of failing to fulfill its demands.

Responding to the allegations after the farmers filed nominations, Kavitha said, "I worked hard for setting up of Turmeric Board. I have introduced a private member’s bill in Parliament as well. No government cared for turmeric farmers, except the TRS. We gave Rs 2 lakh subsidy on boilers worth Rs 4 lakh. KCR worked for the welfare of farmers but Modi never cared for them.”

While some leaders in the TRS dismiss the nominations as a politically motivated move conspired by the BJP and Congress, the protesters say they are fighting as 'farmers' without any political affiliation. 

"Several parties are lending solidarity to our struggle and of course we welcome them. This doesn't mean that we have conspired with the BJP or Congress to ruin Kavitha's prospects," Anvesh said. 

He added, "The cause is a genuine one. If it is not the case, hundreds of farmers wouldn't bear the brunt of police brutality or get slapped with cases or come forward in large numbers to file nominations en masse." 

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