Chandigarh, Mar 28: Referring to the issue of pending payment of UP sugarcane farmers, SAD Kisan Wing president and former Punjab minister Sikandar Singh Maluka on Thursday launched a blistering attack on Priyanka Gandhi, saying she should first direct Punjab CM to release sugarcane arrears before raking up the issue in UP.
'Before raking up the issue of payment of Rs 10,000 crore to UP sugarcane farmers, Priyanka Gandhi should first direct Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to release arrears of more than Rs 800 crore to Punjab farmers who have been agitating for the last couple of months', Maluka said in a statement.
Maluka said that Priyanka Gandhi has no locus-standi to seek release of arrears in UP while the Congress run Punjab government is equally guilty of withholding the sugarcane arrears which are more than double of the arrears of Uttar Pradesh farmers.
The Akali leader pointed out that sugarcane is main crop of Uttar Pradesh and over 22 lac hectares of land is under sugarcane cultivation. However, Punjab farmers grow sugarcane in less than one lac hectares, 0.94 lac hectares to be precise.
It may be noted that sugar mills in Uttar Pradesh are to pay arrears of Rs 320 per hectares to farmers while in Punjab the sugar mills owe nearly Rs 800 per hectares to Punjab farmers. Evidently, the sugar mills in Punjab are withholding double the arrears than their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh.
'Strangely, Priyanka Gandhi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi has of late raised the pitch for release of the sugarcane arrears of UP farmers but have adopted a stoic silence over the fate of Punjab sugarcane growers who are suffering two times more than the UP farmers in monitory terms', bemoaned Maluka.
The Akali leader said that the Congress party can’t afford to have double standards – one for the Congress ruled states and another NDA ruled- while raking up the farmers’ issues. “For us, the payment of arrears of all the farmers across the country is of the same importance”, he quipped.
It may be recalled that famers’ outfits have been agitating for long by staging protest march, dharnas and climbing the water tanks in different parts of the state but the government has remained adamant and still not ensured that the arrears are cleared by cooperative and private sugar mills. (UNI)