GI Basmati row: Chouhan writes to Sonia on 'anti-farmer stance' of Cong CMs

Earlier in the day Chouhan was engaged in a war of words with his predecessor Kamal Nath on the issue
The war of words between Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and his political rivals in the Congress over the state’s claim on the GI tag for basmati rice grown in Madhya Pradesh worsened today, with Chouhan writing to Congress Interim Chief Sonia Gandhi, accusing her party of being step-motherly towards farmers.

In a letter, Chouhan alleged that Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s interference in the matter to deny the GI tag to basmati rice grown in MP is meant to deny MP farmers their rightful due, and that his representations in the matter are false and baseless.

Chouhan highlighted how the previous Congress state government under Kamal Nath failed to waive all farm loans within 10 days of coming to power, as promised by Rahul Gandhi in an election rally.  

He said the Congress government hasn't paid its share of crop insurance premium and denied farmers their due compensation.

“I can’t understand what enmity your party has against Madhya Pradesh farmers and why Congress Chief Ministers openly work against the interest of MP farmers,” Chouhan said in the letter.

He said Amarinder Singh’s assertion that extending the GI tag to MP farmers will benefit Pakistan, which also is a big producer of basmati rice, is nothing but low-level politics.

Earlier in the day Chouhan was engaged in a war of words with his predecessor Kamal Nath on the issue.

Nath said had Chouhan, during his tenure as Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for 15 years, put forward the state’s view point forcefully, MP wouldn’t have been denied its rightful GI tag.

“The MP Chief Minister, instead of responding to the letter written by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to the Prime Minister putting forward his views on MP’s claims, is writing letter to Sonia Gandhi which is nothing but plain politics,” Kamal Nath said in a twitter post.

Nath said while Shivraj Singh Chouhan was busy destabilizing his government, the then Madhya Pradesh government under his Chief Minister ship had written a letter to Prime Minister Modi and Agriculture Minister immediately after Madras High Court rejected the state’s claim on GI tag to basmati grown in its jurisdiction.

“It is not a matter between Congress and BJP but something which concerns the welfare of lakhs of basmati farmers of MP and instead of writing letters, Chouhan should now prepare to fight a strong case in the Supreme Court where the matter is pending for hearing,” Nath wrote in the twitter post.

GI tag to Madhya Pradesh basmati growers has become a talking point ahead of crucial by-election to the state assembly seats which will determine the fate of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.

Earlier, Shivraj Singh Chouhan responding to Amarinder Singh’s letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi disputing MP’s claims over GI tag to basmati rice asserted that Madhya Pradesh has a written recorded history since 1908 of basmati production in 13 districts. Records of supplying seeds to farmers in MP in the year 1944 was recorded in the records of Scindia State.

He said basmati exporters of Punjab and Haryana are procuring basmati rice from MP. This is also supported by Government of India data of export from the Mandideep (industrial area), Madhya Pradesh," he added.

The MP government and a basmati growers' association had lost two separate cases in the court filed in 2016 to challenge the exclusion of the districts from a map submitted by the APEDA for the tags.

Apart from Punjab, other states that already have GI tagging for basmati are Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western UP, and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Madhya Pradesh has sought inclusion of its 13 districts for GI tagging for basmati. 

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