Telangana's ruling party TRS staged protests on Friday, November 12, demanding that the Union government procure the entire paddy stock from the state. Ministers, Members of Parliament and state legislators belonging to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) staged 'dharnas' in their constituencies. Raising slogans against the Union government and holding placards, a large number of TRS cadres and farmers joined the leaders in the sit-in protest against the Union government's refusal to lift the entire stock of paddy from the state.
Earlier this year, the state government had urged farmers to sow crops other than paddy, as the Food Corporation of India has decided not to procure paddy. The move was part of a wider goal by the Telangana government to implement a crop regulation system, which would dictate what crops should be grown in the state, in a bid to make agriculture sustainable. As some farmers still went ahead with sowing paddy, the TRS is now demanding that the Union government procure the entire stock in the state.
TRS working president and Industry, Information Technology, Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister KT Rama Rao led the protest in his home constituency Sircilla. Finance and Health Minister T Harish Rao led the protest in Siddipet. He slammed the Union government for its adamant attitude and for neglecting the state. Harish Rao said though Telangana made tremendous progress in the agriculture sector and took many steps for the welfare of farmers during the last seven years, the stand taken by the Union government on paddy procurement has become a curse for farmers.
He listed the steps taken by the TRS government like completion of irrigation projects, revival of tanks and lakes and 24-hour free electricity supply to increase the area under cultivation. The leader said protests were not new for TRS as the party took birth to fight for the statehood of Telangana. "If yesterday, we fought for Telangana state and achieved our goal, today, we are protesting against the injustice by the Union government to our state," he said.
Harish Rao said the protest was just the beginning and TRS was ready to take it to any length for the sake of farmers. The TRS leader said, "We are not afraid of BJP branding us anti-national or using central agencies against us."
In Hyderabad, Ministers Mohammed Mahmood Ali and Srinivas Yadav led the protest at Dharna Chowk near Indira Park. Chief Minister and TRS president K Chandrasekhar Rao had last week given a call for the protest. Ironically, the TRS drew heavy flak in the past as it had proposed to shift Dharna Chowk, which has been the venue for thousands of protests, including by those who supported the Telangana agitation for separate statehood, for over two decades.
The Union government informed the state government in September that it would not purchase paddy from the state during the coming crop season as the Department of Food and Public Distribution has surplus parboiled rice.
This is the third time since the formation of Telangana in 2014 that TRS staged statewide protests. The party had called for a statewide shutdown and staged protests after the Union government had merged 136 villages in seven mandals of Khammam district with Andhra Pradesh in May 2014. The TRS leaders had again hit the streets in December 2020 as part of the nationwide protest by farmers' groups against three contentious farm laws.
With IANS inputs