Parliament Shuts down following Protest on Sugarcane Prices

With thousands of farmers agitating outside Parliament and Opposition making uproar inside against low state-controlled sugarcane prices, the Parliament shut down on first day of winter session at noon on Thursday.

Lok Sabha was first adjourned till 12 noon when opposition members, led by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, gathered near Speaker Meira Kumar’s podium to demand a withdrawal of the sugarcane pricing order.

However, when house met again, same scenes were repeated with opposition parliamentarians creating pandemonium, shouting slogans like ‘’kisanon ka loot band karo’ (stop looting farmers).

All opposition parties, including BJP and CPM, jointed the protest led by SP and Rashtriya Lok Dal of Ajit Singh.

Opposition parties began protest as soon as three new members of the house – nominated Anglo Indian members Charles Dias and Ingrid McLeod as well as Congress’ Raj Babbar – took oath of office.

The protest over sugarcane prices coincides with farmers from Uttar Pradesh gathering here to march from Ramlila Ground to parliament.

The central government has announced a price of 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 SAP higher than the FRP, it will have to pay the difference.

Farmers want Rs. 280 per quintal for their produce.

Ajit Singh said: “Sugarcane farming in Uttar Pradesh is dependent totally on diesel and the price of diesel is touching the sky. In such a scenario if the farmers do not get an adequate price for their produce, the agitation is completely justified.”

“Uttar Pradesh provides 40 percent of the total sugar in the country,” he added.

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