TRS leaders, led by Telangana Chief Minister Rao, are protesting in Delhi over rice procurement

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) leaders, led by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, will hold a day-long dharna against the Center in the national capital on Monday, demanding collection of 1.5 million tonnes of cooked rice from the state. This will be the first TRS protest rally in Delhi since Telangana came to power in 2014.

The party MPs, MLCs, MLAs, full cabinet ministers and elected representatives of urban and rural local bodies will sit in a dharna at the Telangana Bhavan here, TRS MP G Ranjit Reddy said on Sunday.

The TRS has intensified its protests and reached Delhi after the central government rejected Telangana’s request in the current Rabi season.

“The chief minister is expected to lead the protest and Indian Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait is expected to show solidarity with the chief minister on the day of the dharna,” Reddy told PTI.

Explaining the whole controversy over rice procurement, Reddy said the Telangana government was discouraging farmers from cultivating paddy during the Rabi season after the central government refused to buy parbold rice at the Minimum Support Price (MSP).

Farmers were asked to diversify and as a result ripe paddy was cultivated in 55 lakh acres to 30 acres of land in the state during Rabi season, he said, adding that the area could be further reduced if BJP leaders do not provoke. Farmers will cultivate paddy with the promise of collecting the full amount.

“Union Minister G Kisan Reddy and BJP state president Bandi Sanjay Kumar have encouraged farmers in the state to cultivate paddy during the Rabi season. Farmers have cultivated paddy on 30 acres of land and produced 1.5 million tonnes of cooked rice, ”the TRS leader said, showing video clippings of the two leaders.

The TRS leader further said that the Center was now refusing to procure 1.5 million tonnes of curry rice from Telangana farmers. Reddy said the Center says it can only collect raw rice and not boiled rice which is not widely eaten in India.

The TRS has made all arrangements for the dharna, including billboards and posters bearing the slogans ‘One Country-One Purchase Policy’ and ‘Protect the Interests of Farmers’ set up around the Telangana building in Delhi.

Telangana CM Rao, who is also the president of TRS, has been in the national capital for the last 10 days for a medical check-up and to review the protest arrangements.

Meanwhile, before the protest, on Sunday, TRS leader and MLC K Kavita said the party would fight in the interest of the farmers. Rao’s daughter Kavita said that under the leadership of the Chief Minister, TRS will stand and fight in the interest of every farmer.

Accusing the BJP-led NDA government of discriminating against Telangana, the TRS has staged multiple protests in Telangana for almost a week, including roadblocks. The TRS protest came amid a war of words between the TRS and the BJP over paddy procurement.

Union Food Minister Piyush Goyal recently said that the Telangana government had informed in writing that it was not cooked rice, but raw rice would be supplied to the Food Corporation of India. Telangana state BJP president Kumar on Saturday alleged that the TRS government’s “politicization of paddy procurement” was a reminder of a large-scale conspiracy to extort crores of rupees from middlemen and divert farmers’ anger to the Center.

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