By Ejaz Kaiser
With the Union Cabinet’s recent hike on the Minimum Support Prices (MSP) on Kharif crops for 2023-24, the paddy politics has returned to the poll-bound Chhattisgarh. The BJP has asked the Congress government to pay back every rupee under the MSP amount raised by the Centre on paddy.
The Modi government had increased the MSP by Rs 143 last week, taking it to Rs 2,183 per quintal of paddy. “The Centre has raised the MSP for various crops including paddy. The rice obtained from the paddy is purchased by the Centre and the state government merely works as an agent in the procurement process. During the ongoing Kharif season, the Centre has purchased 61 lakh tonnes of rice for the Central pool and used over 90 lakh tonnes of paddy,” said state BJP president Arun Sao, sharing the data on Chhattisgarh. The Congress countered this. “It appears that Arun Sao is not familiar with the system of paddy procurement and is giving baseless assertions.
Every year, the state government takes loans worth Rs 20-25 crore from various banks only for paddy procurement. The Centre doesn’t give any support to the Chhattisgarh government on it,” said Mohammed Akbar, the state cabinet minister.
He added that Chhattisgarh is the only state procuring paddy at the highest MSP of Rs 2,500 per quintal and with the amount released under the Rajiv Gandhi Nyay Yojana, the farmers get Rs 2,650 per quintal.
Paddy procurement remains a major political issue in Chhattisgarh, cited as the ‘rice bowl of Central India’. Akbar said that the current government has raised the number of cooperative societies for paddy growers from 1,333 to 2,058 and all farmers selling their paddy are registered in the Chhattisgarh Integrated Kisan Portal and not any website of the Centre.
This article has been republished from The New Indian Express