Left Kerala MPs stage dharna on food issue

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New Delhi, Apr 25 (UNI) The MPs of Left parties from Kerala today staged a sit-in on the Parliament premises highlighting the food crisis in the state and protesting against the lack of support from the Centre to deal with the situation.

The MPs, led by senior CPI(M) member P Karunakaran, sat on a dharna in front of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the premises.

After staging a dharna for nearly ten minutes, they went inside their respective Houses in Parliament to attend the proceedings.

They raised the issue in both houses of Parliament, while staging a walkout in the Rajya Sabha.

The Left MPs later met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and submitted a memorandum highlighting their demands with regard to improving the food situation.

Dr Singh reportedly assured them to take up the issue with Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

In the memorandum, they asked the government to strengthen the public distribution system (PDS) by universalising it, restore the cut in foodgrain allocations to the states under the PDS, and include 15 essential commodities including pulses, edible oil and sugar in the PDS.

The MPs demanded that the government ban futures trading in 25 agricultural commodities as proposed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Pubic Distribution.

They also wanted to put curbs on procurement of foodgrains from farmers by private companies and traders.

The memorandum suggested to the government to cut customs and excise duties on oil and reduce retail prices of petrol and diesel, besides seeking stringent action against hoarding of essential commodities, strengthen the provisions of Essential Commodities Act to empower state governments to deal with hoarding and black marketing.

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