Hundreds of sugarcane farmers, including women, staged a protest against the state government in Mudhol, Belagavi, Karnataka, demanding an increase in minimum support price for their produce and getting their arrears released from the mill owners on Sunday.
They shouted slogans against the Karnataka government and chief minister HD Kumaraswamy. They put a garland of slippers on the banner with photos of people’s representatives including Kumaraswamy. The incident occurred at Mudhol, where farmers are expressing their anger against Kumaraswamy for not coming to help and for only thinking about loan waiver of farmers growing other crops.
The farmer leader, Siddanna Gouda, said, “In view of the production glut and falling price, the state government should ensure a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 3,000 per tonne for sugarcane with 9.5 per cent recovery and help us get arrears for the cane supplied to mill owners last year”.
The previous Congress government had fixed Rs. 2,500 per tonne as MSP last year.
With input costs, including harvesting and transporting the cane to the mills rising steeply, Gouda said growing sugarcane was no longer remunerative, as mill owners were unwilling to pay more and settle the arrears.
Gouda angered by the Chief Minister, HD Kumaraswamy cancelling his visit to the city on Monday alleged, “We suspended on Saturday our agitation launched on November 15 for higher MSP and recovery of arrears on the assurance of Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy that he would meet us here on Monday. But he has now backed out.”
As a mark of protest against Kumaraswamy going back on his words, about 20 farmers drove trucks laden with sugarcane into the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha, which is the state legislative and secretariat building for the region.
Kumaraswamy, referring to the protestors who barged into the legislature complex as ‘goondas’, added fuel to the fire.
Agitated farmers threatened to disrupt the upcoming winter session of the assembly, which is likely to begin by the first week of December and will take place in Belagavi.
The opposition BJP condemned the JD-S-Congress coalition government’s indifference to the plight of the sugarcane farmers in the state.
“The coalition government’s approach to farmers’ plight is reprehensible. Scores of farmers, including their womenfolk, were arrested at Belagavi for staging a protest,” said Karnataka BJP President BS Yeddyurappa in Bengaluru.
Mocking at Kumaraswamy and the JDS for claiming to be a party for farmers, by farmers and of farmers, Yeddyurappa said the former told a woman agitator that he was not responsible for what happened to them over the last four years as he became chief minister only 5 months ago. Kumaraswamy has also cast aspersions on the integrity of the farmers, which is unacceptable.
“By calling farmers ‘goondas’ (goons), Kumaraswamy has indulged in an outrageous act. This shows the contempt his party has for farmers.”
It is rather surprising that JDs all this while has used the farmer loan waiver issue as their key campaign agenda. The Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, still uses this subject constantly, to target the BJP government. In fact, in his quest to undermine the prime minister, he had even lied and conflated the meaning of ‘loan waiver’ and ‘loan write off’.
Ironically, the Congress-JDs coalition government, who have for all this while portrayed to be the benefactors of this section of people are facing the wrath of these farmers itself. It so seems that the air castles which were built by the coalition government will soon fall apart and their hollow pretence will soon concede.