With the Opposition trying to make neglect of farm sector and farmers a major issue during the ensuing elections, several BJD MPs and MLAs on Sunday demanded that the State Government should declare bonus on paddy to placate the farmers.
The issue was raised by the party MPs, MLAs and several other leaders at the workshop organised by ‘Krushi O Krushak’ committee of the BJD at the party headquarters here. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik presided over the meeting.
Some of the MLAs who attended the meeting told this paper that distributing mobiles to selected farmers would not be sufficient to woo the farmers unless the State Government announces bonus on paddy, besides the minimum support price (MSP).
The Opposition parties, the Congress and the BJP, have made it a major issue as some of the neighbouring States, including Chhattisgarh, are paying bonus. The State Government had, however, rejected the demand for bonus raised by the Opposition in the Assembly by putting the blame on the Centre.
The Chief Minister had launched the mobile scheme for the farmers last month in a bid to deflect criticism that the State Government is anti-farmer and has neglected the farm sector during the last 13 years.
It was decided at the workshop that the committee will organise awareness campaign among the people about the schemes launched by the State Government for the farmers during the last 13 years. The committee, headed by former agriculture minister Pradip Maharathi, will start its campaign from Western Odisha and KBK districts.
The committee will impress upon the people that agriculture production has increased during the last 13 years. Besides, the State Government presented a separate agriculture budget last year for the first time. Budget allocation for agriculture has increased from Rs 2,000 crore a few years back to Rs 7,000 crore now, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kalpataru Das said.
The State Congress, however, criticised the move ahead of the 2014 polls. Alleging that the State Government has failed to address the problems faced by the farmers, the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) said the growing suicides by farmers is a pointer towards this.