Tuesday, December 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

TDP threatens to withdraw support
Naidu shoots protest letter to PM

Hyderabad, Dec 18 (IANS) — The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has threatened to withdraw support to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee’s government, for its alleged lack of response to the plight of farmers in the state.

The TDP chief and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Chandrababu Naidu held a teleconference with his TDP members of Parliament (MPs) and directed them to stall the proceedings of the Lok Sabha to bring pressure on the Centre to come to the rescue of paddy farmers in the state, party sources said.

He has also sent a letter to Mr Vajpayee protesting New Delhi’s “attitude” towards the problems of farmers in the state. He has deputed state Minister for Agriculture V. Shobanadreeswara Rao and Minister for Civil Supplies N. Janardhan Reddy to Delhi to meet the Prime Minister and other central ministers to lodge the state’s protest.

Last week Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Minister Shanta Kumar had visited Andhra Pradesh and said all possible measures would be taken to purchase paddy and rice from the state to provide relief to the farmers, who were being forced to sell their produce at low prices to the traders due to the surplus production this year. But Mr Naidu is far from satisfied with the functioning of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the government agency that buys grain from farmers, official sources say.

Though Mr Shanta Kumar had announced that the FCI would purchase one million tonnes each of paddy and rice from the state in December to resolve the crisis, it had so far procured only 11,000 tonnes of paddy and 380,000 tonnes of rice.

Mr Naidu in his letter to the Prime Minister regretted that despite Mr Shanta Kumar’s assurances, the FCI was not extending its cooperation. He also reminded Mr Vajpayee of the promises to allow the export of two million tonnes of rice and to move 500,000 tonnes of rice from Andhra Pradesh to other states. The TDP chief is also sore with the Centre for not extending to Andhra Pradesh the kind of concessions it had given to farmers in Punjab.

Mr Naidu, sources said, was angry over the fact that the Mr Vajpayee’s coalition government was doing nothing to redress his grievances though it was surviving on his support. Though the TDP voted with the government during last week’s censure motion moved by the Opposition on the Ayodhya issue, it wanted a “fair deal” for the state’s farmers.

The crisis seemed to have been resolved a few days ago when the Centre promised to take steps to procure rice and paddy from the state following the protest by TDP MPs near Parliament. The protest followed a number of representations by the state and several rounds of meetings the Chief Minister had with the Prime Minister, central ministers and FCI officials during the past two months.


TDP, Cong men clash in LS
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 18 — Members of the Telugu Desam Party today stalled proceedings in the Lok Sabha claiming that the Centre had done nothing for Andhra Pradesh farmers.

Soon after the House assembled, TDP members stalled question hour, forcing its adjournment for an hour. On resumption there was no let up in the TDP pressure and their members stormed the well protesting against the Centre’s indifference to the plight of the AP farmers.

They repeatedly clashed with Congress members from AP who wanted to know why they had kept quiet when the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, had moved an adjournment motion on the farmers’ issue at the very beginning of the session last month.

Rejecting TDP’s charge that the Centre had done nothing for AP farmers, the Food and Consumer Affairs Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, said 13.15 lakh tonnes of rice had so far been procured in the state which, he pointed out, was four lakh tonnes more compared to the corresponding period last year.

He said the Centre had agreed to allow admixture of “swarana masoori” rice up to 13 per cent, one of the demands put forward by the state, Mr Shanta Kumar said.

Joining issue with the Centre, opposition members said there was discrimination in the procurement of farmer’s produce. Rashtriya Janata Dal members too were in the well of the House for sometime to highlight the problems faced by Bihar farmers.

Mr K. Yerrannaidu sought admission of the TDP’s notice for adjournment motion. After the minister’s response, he, however, did not press it.

He said the farmers were not getting the minimum support price for rice and paddy despite several representations to the Centre by the state leadership.

Mr Yerrannaidu said that the Food Corporation of India was not following the directive given by the Centre.

Mr Shanta Kumar assured TDP members that the paddy was being procured there on the Punjab pattern and pointed out that the central agencies had already procured 11,000 tonnes.

NEW DELHI, (UNI): The TDP warned the Vajpayee government that it would part company with the ruling coalition if it deviated from the National Democratic Alliance agenda.

“The moment the government says goodbye to the NDA agenda on the Ayodhya issue, we will also say goodbye to it,” Telugu Desam member K.M. Saifullah said while participating in the debate on the Ayodhya motion in the Rajya Sabha.

Mr Saifullah criticised the Congress for unnecessarily raking up the Ayodhya issue and demanded a criminal case against Mr Narasimha Rao who was the Prime Minister when the structure at Ayodhya was brought down in 1992.

He said the remote control of the NDA government was with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and the DMK.

He said that his party was monitoring the situation.

Rejecting the demand for the resignation of three Cabinet ministers, he said the Congress was responsible for the Ayodhya crisis and a criminal case should have been filed against Mr Rao for his role in the demolition of the disputed structure.

He accused Mr Rao of being hand in glove with fundamentalist forces.

He, however, said the TDP had full faith in the Prime Minister, stating: “We do not want to get instigated by the Congress, which betrayed the trust of Muslims”.

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