New Delhi Feb 27 (UNI) The CPI(M) today demanded that the Manmohan Singh government come out with a" wholesome package" to overcome agrarian crisis amid reports that the government might set aside Rs 30000 crore for farmers in the General Budget for 2008-09.
"For the last three years we have been demanding that a piecemeal announcement as made by the Prime Minister in Vidharba last year will not do. This is why even now one farmer is committing suicide every half an hour in the country," CPI(M) senior leaders told newspersons.
At a press conference, Party floor leaders in the Lok Sabha, Basudev Acharya and Salim Mohammad said only a wholesome package containing various measures -- the setting up of farmers Debt Relief Commission and the Price Stabilisaiton Fund and reduction of interest rate from 7 to 4 per cent as recommended by the M S Swaminathan Report -- would help the farming community, of whom over 1.5 lakh people had committed suicide since 1990.
It may be recalled that former Prime Minister V P Singh had waived off the loans of farmers totalling Rs 12000 crore in early '90s.
The Left leaders' demand assumes special political significance in the context of their coming closer with the UNPA on the issue both in and outside Parliament. Not only yesterday but today also, the Left parties -- the CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc -- joined the UNPA in stalling the proceedings of both the Houses on the farmers issue.
Besides, top Left leaders -- Prakash Karat, A B Bardhan and Sitaram Yechury shared the dais with the UNPA leaders here yesterday on the same issue where they impressed upon Mulayam Singh Yadav, Chandra Babu Naidu and others to launch common struggles on people's issues to pave way for revival of non-Congress and non-BJP third alternative as they had been pursuing the same economic policies.
However, to a specific query, Mr Basu and Mr Mohammad denied that they were staging walkout in Parlimanet only "to get credit" in view of the possible announcement for farmers in the General Budget." ''No, you see we have been organising farmers' rallies and taking out their 'jathas' throughout the country for the last three years to press for acceptance of our demand for wholesome package," they said.
They said only waiving off loans won't do, other steps like increase in the Minimum Support Price ( MSP) for wheat and rice, the remunerative price of other agricultural products and increase in food subsidy so as to ensure that the target of procuding 250 million tonnes this year is met.
On whether the Left had joined the NDA in the agitation for the case of farmers, the Left leaders said," how can we do so when the farmers crisis have been accentuated by it only." When reminded that the NDA was also raising the same issue and that it had organised the Akali-BJP rally yesterday only, Party chief whip in the Lok Sabha, Mr Rup Chand Pal was quick to add that" we are not doing it in cooperation with the BJP and its allies." UNI KSA AKJ KN1704