Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately recall two Maharashtra ministers, who are on a “junket” as part of a legislative delegation visiting Australia, Singapore and New Zealand, in the backdrop of protests across the state over Tur dal procurement.
Tur farmers in Maharashtra are facing a crisis due to a bumper production of the commodity and resultant low prices. In a letter to Modi dated May 4, Chavan said that after PM’s appeal for increasing pulses production, farmers from the state responded with a record production of Tur dal.
Sadly, the government procurement system has badly let them down, the former Maharashtra Chief Minister rued. Tur producing farmers are agitating for procurement at MSP (minimum support price) throughout the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions in the state and the number of farmer suicides is rising, he wrote.
Chavan said that instead of personally attending to this crisis, Agriculture minister along with the Food and Public Distribution minister in the state have gone abroad as part of a legislative delegation led by the Speaker to Australia, Singapore and New Zealand. “It is appalling that these two ministers directly responsible for handling the current farm crisis have gone on a 15-day junket along with their family. The timing could not be worse. Farmers in the state are shocked,” Chavan charged.
The former CM said,” I am sure you are aware that as per rules of business, specific sanctions from the Chief Minister and the PMO is mandatory before any minister of the state government is permitted to travel abroad. Surely, these two ministers have obtained prior permission before leaving.” He said, “I request you to ask the Chief Minister to immediately recall these two ministers back to their duty. The legislative delegation led by the Speaker can continue on their visit. I am sure you will appreciate the seriousness of the matter and take appropriate steps.”
Chavan posted this letter on his Twitter handle and tagged Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in it. Agriculture Minister Pandurang Phundkar, Food and Civil Supplies minister Girish Bapat are part of the delegation led by Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde. Legislators cutting across party lines are part of the tour, which is part of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Half of the tour cost is borne by the members and the remaining by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Earlier this week, on May 2, Fadnavis had directed officials concerned to complete the procurement of tur in the next five to six days. He had asked officials to work in two shifts and complete the procurement of tur on war footing. Also, the state government has decided to call for a global tender to auction tur. Till April 22, 40 lakh quintal tur worth Rs 1839 crore was procured by Maharashtra at Rs 5050, including bonus of Rs 425, from 2,58,341 farmers.