Congress-backed farmers’ group plans rally in Kerala

March 20th, 2008 - 2:24 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Thiruvananthapuram, March 20 (IANS) A farmers’ organisation owing allegiance to the Congress will take out a vehicle rally across Kerala next month to gauge the response to the Rs.600 billion farm loan waiver. Congress general secretary M. Veerappa Moily will flag off the rally April 1 at the Kerala-Karnataka border near Kasargod. The rally will cover all 140 assembly constituencies of the state.

Kerala Pradesh Karshaka Congress president Lal Varughese Kalpakavadi, who will lead the rally, said it would end here April 19 when central Finance Minister P. Chidamabaram is expected to address the participants.

“This is the first time that the Kerala unit of the Karshaka Congress is conducting such a state-wide mass contact programme. We will meet 100,000 farmers directly and seek their opinions about the loan waiver scheme. This would then be sent to Congress president Sonia Gandhi,” Kalpakavadi told IANS Thursday.

“From preliminary calculations what we have come to know is that through the loan waiver scheme, close to Rs.64 billion of outstanding loans taken by Kerala farmers would be written off. This has certainly created a sense of relief amongst the farmers,” said Kalpakavadi.

What has come as a blessing in disguise for the rally is the recent events at Kuttanad, popularly known as the rice bowl of Kerala, where the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and its agricultural labourers’ union opposed the use of machines for harvesting paddy, resulting in huge loss to farmers.

“With the delay in harvesting, the unexpected summer rains have ruined paddy crop worth millions of rupees. We will expose the anti-people policies of the Left during our rally,” said Kalpakavadi.

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