HD Kumaraswamy Gears Up to Meet Farmers As Protests Rage In Karnataka

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Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has said that the farmers' agitation is politically motivated.

Protests continue to rage in Karnataka, with sugarcane farmers from Belagavi insisting that the Congress-Janata Dal(Secular) government fix a respectable adequate minimum support price (MSP) for their crop in view of falling prices and the glut in production.

The agitation began on Sunday, with farmers storming Belagavi's Suvarna Soudha — the legislature building of the district — in protest against the state government's alleged indifference to their plight.

Today, a few farmers have taken up a protest outside the deputy commissioner's office.

Farmers from places across the state had gathered near Bengaluru's Freedom Park on Monday to press for their demands. Although they demanded that Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy meet them personally, state Cooperation Minister Bandeppa Kashempur came in his stead.

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"We want the state government to should ensure an MSP of Rs 3,000 per tonne for sugarcane with 9.5 per cent recovery," news agency IANS quoted farmer leader Siddanna Gouda as saying. The erstwhile Congress government had fixed Rs 2,500 per tonne as the MSP in 2017.

Mr Kashempur assured swift resolution of the impasse. "Our government is pro-farmer and agriculture is a priority sector for us. After all, 60 per cent of our people are dependent on farming and horticulture. We will study the demands and try to address many of them, if not all," he said.

The Chief Minister, however, said that the agitation was not being led by farmers but a group of people who wished to harm him politically. He has called for a meeting with the protesters to discuss the issue.

The opposition BJP, which has extended its support to farmer groups on the issue, will soon hold a core committee meeting to work out a plan to agitate on the issue. "Anybody in public life should gracefully accept criticism. The Chief Minister had promised to meet the farmers at Belagavi. Power seems to have gone to the Chief Minister's head," said state party chief BS Yeddyurappa.

In addition to fixing the MSP, the farmers want the government's assistance in recovering pending dues from factories and the loan waiver promised by the Janata Dal(Secular) before the assembly polls.

(With inputs from IANS)

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