Double-engine government in UP 'running dangerously low' on fuel: Congress

Ahead of the prime minister's rally in Saharanpur, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed three questions to the PM including one on Saharanpur's wood-carving industry.
Congress Flag used for representational purposes only
Congress Flag used for representational purposes only (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Taking a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress on Saturday claimed that the double-engine government in Uttar Pradesh is running "dangerously low" on fuel and that the PM must answer key issues of the state before the engine comes to a "sputtering halt on June 4".

Ahead of the prime minister's rally in Saharanpur, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed three questions to the PM including one on Saharanpur's wood-carving industry.

"Today, PM Modi visits Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh, a state where the double-engine sarkar is running dangerously low on fuel. Before the engine comes to a sputtering halt on June 4th, we hope the PM can answer these three questions on why the machinery is breaking down," Ramesh said on X.

Noting that Saharanpur is globally acclaimed for its wood-carving industry and is popularly known as the Wooden City, Ramesh said the industry is more than 200 years old and is crucial to the economic health of the city as it employs more than 7 lakh people.

"Unfortunately, the wood-carving industry has been hit hard by successive blunders of the Modi government. First, demonetisation, then GST, and finally, the unplanned pandemic lockdowns have decimated the industry, which has been struggling to recover ever since," he said.

At its peak, it was exporting more than 1,500 crores worth of goods but today, this number has reduced by almost 90 per cent, he claimed.

"The 'double-engine' sarkar has been found triply guilty in Saharanpur. What does PM Modi have to say to the lakhs of artisans who are suffering because of his blunders? What have the BJP governments at the state and Centre done to support this age-old industry?" he said.

Noting that Uttar Pradesh is the largest sugarcane producer in the country, Ramesh said farmers in Western UP have been demanding a hike in the fixed price (SAP) of sugarcane citing increased costs of fertilisers and pesticides.

"Yet, the BJP government has raised the price to just Rs.360/quintal, which is grossly inadequate according to UP's farmers. This latest price hike lags far behind inflation and is much lower than Punjab's Rs.386/quintal and Haryana's Rs.391/quintal," he said.

"As Sudhir Panwar, a former member of UP Planning Commission, remarked, '[I]n UP, the SAP, which was earlier determined by input cost, is now dictated by election schedule'," he said.

Can the PM tell us why the BJP government has been so unwilling to fairly compensate farmers for their work?" Ramesh said.

Despite repeated promises of action, the UP government has failed to address the growing stray cattle menace, he claimed.

Congress Flag used for representational purposes only
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The lack of adequate animal shelters has led cattle rearers to avoid caring for them by simply releasing their animals, he said.

"These cattle have now become a nightmare for farmers - routinely destroying crops, and given their affinity for higher-value crops, even blocking efforts at crop diversification. Farmers now have to keep vigil around the clock, and some have even died from bull attacks," he said.

"Instead of diverting public discourse, can the Prime Minister address the issues that are actually concerning the local people: what is his vision to solve this problem?" Ramesh said and asked the prime minister to break his "silence" on these issues.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha elections will begin starting April 19 and results will be declared on June 4.

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