YSR meets Sonia seeking higher MSP for paddy

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New Delhi, Feb 16 (UNI) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajashekhara Reddy today called on Congress president Sonia Gandhi seeking her intervention for a higher Minimum Support Price for paddy and debt relief package for farmers.

In his meeting Dr Reddy wanted the Union Government to accept the higher MSP for crops announced by the CACP and requested Ms Gandhi to use her office to speed up the decision.

''She promised me that she would talk to the Prime Minister, Union Finance Minister and the Agriculture Minister in this regard,'' Dr Reddy told newspersons.

He recalled that Dr Manmohan Singh had spoken to the CACP when he raised the issue during his last visit and had asked them to adopt a realistic method of estimating agricultural costs.

Following this, the CACP gave a favorable report, which should be applied by he Centre, Dr Reddy said.

He also urged the Centre to announce debt relief package for the farmers in the Budget.

He also phoned Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar seeking their assistance for the rain-affected farmers in his state. A Central team has already left for the state to assess the damage caused by last week's unseasonal rains.

Touching the allegations of predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu that the Chief Minister was stopping the Centre's debt relief to farmers, Dr Reddy said if the Government were to accept his recommendations it would benefit the farmers to the extent of Rs 1.50,000 crores over the next three years whereas the Centre's proposal would not go beyond Rs 65,000 crores. The Government is weighing the pros and cons.

He said having neglected the problems of farmers when he was in office for nine long years, Mr Babu was trying to impress the farming community. He was not even aware how many farmers had bank accounts, he remarked. He should not think that the Centre is run by the UNPA, Dr reddy said countering Mr Babu's claim that he was making efforts to compel the CACP to announce higher MSP.

Asked about the Congress party's problems with it Telangana leaders, he said "we belong to one party. We will sit and sort out our differences." Dr Reddy, who met Ms Gandhi and her political secretary Ahmed Patel to finalise her visit to the State scheduled for March 14.

During the visit she will inaugurate Pushkara Lift Irrigation in West Godavari and inspect Devadula lift Irrigation in Warangal district besides inaugurating Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad and addressing a public meeting at Hyderabad.

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