Government backtracks on sugarcane pricing, opposition satisfied (Lead)

New Delhi, Nov 20 (Inditop.com) Putting an end to the bitter row, the central government Friday decided to restore the earlier sugarcane pricing policy, a move welcomed by opposition parties.

After a meeting of UPA partners in the Parliament House, the government decided to delete the controversial clause from the Sugarcane Pricing (Control) ordinance, which required state governments to pay the difference between their State Advised Price (SAP) and the central government’s Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP).

The UPA’s decision was conveyed to leaders of other political parties at a meeting later.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said after the meeting that certain misgivings had arisen due to the clause.

“In order to remove the misgivings, it is proposed to delete this clause altogether. Consequently, if a state announces an SAP, it will be the responsibility of the sugar mills to pay the SAP to the farmers,” he said.

Bansal said that UPA constituents met Saturday morning in the wake of the political row triggered by the ordinance. He added that the UPA’s decision to delete the clause was conveyed to leaders of opposition parties at a meeting convened by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Bansal explained that the objective of the ordinance was to ensure that the farmers got “a fair and just price for their sugarcane but in view of certain judgments of the Supreme Court, it was necessary to determine the price of levy sugar and validate the actions taken by the government”.

With the opposition expressing satisfaction over the move to delete the controversial clause, it puts an end to the two-day stalemate in parliament over the sugarcane price ordinance.

Coming out of the meeting, Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Ajit Singh said the farmers will get price higher than the FRP. He said a new bill will be brought by the government in parliament on the matter.

He added that the protest by farmers had ended and that parliament would function normally from Monday.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj welcomed the government decision, and said it had prevented damage to the federal structure of the constitution.

Asked whether the government’s decision came in the wake of Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday, the BJP leader said that the real credit should go to the agitating farmers who exerted pressure on the government to accept their demand. “The credit does not go to any one political party,” she said.

DMK leader T.R. Baalu also welcomed the government decision. “We are very happy,” he said.

Various opposition parties had joined hands against the ordinance, with the DMK, a UPA constituent, also signalling its reservations on the issue.

Through its ordinance, the central government had announced Rs.129.85 per quintal for sugarcane during the 2009-10 crushing season under the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) system, while the Uttar Pradesh State Advisory Price (SAP) has been set between Rs.165 and Rs.170 per quintal. In case a state government fixes its SAP higher than the FRP, it has to pay the difference.

Farmers were demanding Rs.280 per quintal for their produce.