The ongoing battle between Chhattisgarh and the Centre over paddy procurement plunged to new depths as the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) gave a slip to the all-party meeting convened on the issue.
The Congress government led by Bhupesh Baghel had been mounting pressure on the Centre to allow procurement of paddy at a higher price. As promised before the state polls in November 2018, the state government purchased the crop for Rs 2,500 per quintal in the kharif marketing season 2018-19.
Doling out huge amounts from the state exchequer to pay beyond minimum support price (MSP) was now proving dear to the state government. Besides demanding permission to increase the price, the state had been pursuing that Centre should increase the procurement quota to the central poll from 2.4 million tonnes (MT) to 3.2 MT.
The high procurement price had increased the paddy flow in the government societies. Though the government had put a cap of 15 quintal per acre, authorities expected 8.7 MT paddy arrival in the current marketing season. Earlier, the procurement was supposed to start from November 15 but had been extended by 15 days.
“The Congress party did not ask (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) while announcing to pay Rs 2,500 for a quintal of paddy before the election,” BJP Member of Parliament (MP) from Raipur Sunil Soni lashed out. Since it was Congress’ decision, its government in Chhattisgarh should execute it instead of putting the ball in Centre’s court, he added.
Besides all-party meeting, Baghel had invited all MPs from the state to discuss the issue on Tuesday. The BJP boycotted the meeting as Soni alleged that there was no formal invitation from the state government.