Chandigarh, Jan 5 (IANS) Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal on Saturday asked Punjab Congress MPs to hawk potatoes outside the residence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to make him intervene to help crisis-hit potato growers of Punjab.
Asking Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar and other Congress MPs “not to resort to cheap photo ops”, she said that in case they were really interested in coming to the aid of potato growers, they should hold a protest outside the residence of Amarinder Singh.
Accusing Jakhar and the other Congress MPs of suffering from amnesia, Badal said: “They would remember that (Punjab) Finance Minister Manpreet Badal had announced formation of a Price Stabilisation Fund in the assembly whose purpose was to intervene in case of steep fall in food produce.
“The Congress government has forgotten about the Fund and is not lifting a single finger to help potato growers but Jakhar is holding a protest in Delhi instead of Punjab.”
Asking Jakhar what was preventing the Congress government from announcing a relief package for potato growers, Badal said the government could also introduce potatoes in mid-day meal and Atta-Dal schemes to end distress sale of potatoes at Rs 3 per kg against the production cost of Rs 6 to Rs 8 per kg.
Potato growers in Punjab, especially in the Doaba belt (area between Sutlej and Beas rivers), are facing a crisis due to a glut following a bumper potato crop.
Badal said the state government could also introduce freight and storage subsidies for potato growers on the pattern of the Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal governments.
“Instead of doing all this, Jakhar and company are trying to befool the people by making it appear as if the centre is not coming to the rescue of potato growers,” she added.
She claimed that the Punjab government was not even ready for any long term solutions to ensure value-addition to food products, including potatoes.
“The Congress government has also shown total lack of interest in availing schemes initiated by the Food Processing Ministry. It seems Congress MPs are deliberately holding frivolous protests to deflect attention from their own failures,” Badal added.