Lok Satta

Sunday, 01 May 2011 17:29

Lok Satta hints at direct action on problems of Farmers and urban dwellers

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The Lok Satta Party today threw enough hints of its plans to mobilize people for direct action if Governments did not mend their ways and come to the rescue of people in distress.

Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said that farmers would blockade movement of non-agricultural produce if the Union and State Governments did not ensure even the minimum support price for paddy while the party’s Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said rate payers would be forced to launch a no-tax campaign if the State Government did not drop its plans to hike the property tax in urban areas.

They were addressing the media after a two-day meeting of the party’s State Working Committee.

Mr. Varma wanted the State Government to roll back its recent orders providing for a hike in property tax in urban areas. While making it clear the Lok Satta was not opposed to taxes, he explained why a hike at this stage is unwarranted. The present property tax system is inequitable. Those who wielded power and influence and those who greased the palms of officials managed to get away with little incidence while the majority suffered in silence. Taxes are supposed to be collected for rendering service, and not for feeding the corrupt. The municipalities have miserably failed in discharging their primary duty of supplying safe drinking water and maintaining sanitation and hygiene. Middle class people spent hundreds of rupees on buying bottled water and mosquito repellents. The Government has not constituted ward committees in all municipalities or entrusted them with powers, resources and personnel where they are in place. The municipalities are not implementing the citizen’s charter.

Mr. Varma said that the Government should attend to all such anomalies before it permitted a hike in taxes. If did not heed, people would have no alternative to resorting to a no-tax campaign, he warned.

Dr. JP released a booklet brought out by the party on municipal taxes.

Dr. JP pointed out that farmers in Andhra Pradesh and elsewhere in the country had to make distress sale of paddy and wheat since the Union Government would not permit export of food grains although warehouses are overflowing. As of today, the country has 48 million tons of buffer stocks, double the quantity needed for meeting the nation’s food security. The State Government by its acts of commission and omission left farmers to the mercy of rice millers.

A delegation of independent farmers’ organizations and the Lok Satta Party will be calling on Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on May 2 to represent the farmers’ plight. The Andhra Pradesh Government, like its counterparts in Punjab and Haryana, should enter the market and buy paddy at the MSP and permit free movement of paddy and rice within and outside the State.

Dr. JP wanted economist-turned Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to take the initiative and permit food grain exports. He appealed to Members of Parliament from the State to exert pressure on the Union Government and facilitate food grain exports.

Dr. JP warned that if farmers turned desperate, they would hit the road. The Lok Satta Party in association with farmers’ organizations would be forced to call for a blockade of non-agricultural produce to make New Delhi realize the crisis in the farm sector.

At the outset, Dr. JP hoped that MIM legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi would recover soon and said the attack on him should serve as a wake-up call for arresting the anarchy into which the State is hurtling.