Onion price fall, farmers' protest at Pawar's meeting rock Assembly
Mumbai, Apr 3: Maharashtra Marketing Minister Harshvardhan Patil today said the onion policy would be announced soon, even as the Opposition criticised the government for failing to take steps to arrest the steep fall in its prices, resulting in farmers' throwing onions on the dias at Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's meeting in Nashik.
Making a statement in the Lower House following four adjournments, Mr Patil said discussions were on with authorities in the Central Government, the State Finance department and Railways for additional wagons.
He admitted that he had assured the House in the first week of the Budget Session that a decision regarding onion exports would be announced soon.
''I convened a meeting of all legislators. A Cabinet note has been prepared and a final decision will be taken soon,'' he added.
This did not satisfy the Opposition members who shouted slogans against the government demanding minimum support price. Many of them climbed the podium and even lifted the mace from the Speaker's table.
Senior PWP member and former Marketing Minister Ganpatrao Deshmukh said the delay in making a decision was due to the ''game of one upmanship between NCP and Congress.'' Despite assurance in the first week, the government has failed to keep its promise, he said, and added that he wanted to orally move a breach of privilege against the government.
Giving his ruling, Deputy Speaker Pramod Shende said non-implementation of assurance is neither a breach of privilege nor contempt of House.
When the chair called for discussion on the budgetary demands for the Home department, BJP leader Gopinath Munde initiated the debate.
He said the delay in announcing decision on relief to onion growers was because of the race to claim credit ''between the two coalition partners.'' When told by the chair to speak on Home department, Mr Munde said the issue of the Union Agriculture Minister's public meeting being disrupted by angry farmers was a law and order issue.
''Despite being a political adversary of Mr Pawar, I felt sad at what happened in Nashik yesterday,'' he said, taking potshots at Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil and PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who were also present at yesterday's rally.
Mr Munde demanded that onion growers be paid Rs 300 per quintal and also transport subsidy.
When Mr Munde described Mr Pawar as an ''enemy of the farmers'', NCP members also came into the aisle and shouted slogans against the BJP leader.
Mr Narsayya Adam (CPM) and Mr Wamanrao Chatap (Swatantra Bharat Paksha) also highlighted the plight of onion growers and repeated attempts of the chair to speak on budgetary demands of the Home department went unheard.