Sambalpur: Playing the pro-farmer card to the hilt, the BJP president, Mr Rajnath Singh, declared that if it returns to power at the Centre, the minimum support price for rice will not be less than Rs 1,100 per quintal and the interest on farm loans will be pegged at four per cent.
Apparently having done its homework on the occasion of resentment among the farmers, particularly in the western parts of Orissa over the industrial use of water and the fact that the Opposition party, the Congress had held a farmers rally here, the BJP today organised an impressive kranti samavesh rally and a public meeting. The recent farmers' agitation in the region had threatened the BJP, which considers itself to be strong in western parts of the state. Today's celebration was targeted at countering the Congress and consolidating the position of the BJP in these regions. Incidentally, Mr Suresh Pujari, a local of this town, heads the state unit of the party.
With the dais symbolising a chariot and rallies from different parts coming in vehicles like chariots, the BJP's show of strength was witnessed by thousands of activists. The entire state unit of the party, including ministers and MLAs were present.
Mr Singh said that the NDA had been a pro-poor and a pro-farmer government, but the UPA led by the Congress has turned out to be a pro-rich government. He said that if voted to power, the NDA will not only reduce interest rates on farm loans, but also provide a one year moratorium on repayment of loans. Crticising the UPA for its failure to combat terrorism, he said that there is a need for a stringent law. We had the Pota, but the UPA dispensed with it, Mr Singh decried. He asserted that the BJP will not allow the Ram Sethu to be destroyed or even damaged by the Sethusamudram project. Prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed, he noted.
The Congress utters the name of Mahatma Gandhi on every occasion, but betrays him the most, whereas the BJP believes in his Ramrajya, he said. The Congress and its senior leaders went to the extent of submitting an affidavit in the apex court, suspecting the very existence of Rama, the Maryada Purusha and the faith of Indians. The Kranti Samavesh was organised to mark the second birth centenary of Vir Surendra Sai on 23 January and also to celebrate the completion of 150 years of the First War of Independence.
The chief minister of Chhatisgarh, Mr Raman Singh, the all India general secretary, Mr Vinay Katiyara, and a host of state ministers and MPs addressed the meeting. Mr Raman Singh denounced the Central government for the faulty minimum support price, which is affecting rice-growing states adversely. He also denounced the mineral policy of the Centre and said that royalty rates were low. This will affect the mineral-bearing states like Orissa and Chhatisgarh, he noted. The state BJP president of Orissa, Mr Suresh Pujari, lamented that the freedom fighters of Orissa and their contribution has not been recognised. Vir Surendra Sai spent 37 years in jails and this is the highest tenure of punishment for any freedom fighter all over the world.