The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Urea brigade at Atal door

New Delhi, March 5: NDA allies are planning to mount pressure on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to roll back the increase in fertiliser and urea prices as the finance minister is showing no sign of agreeing to a review.

The Telugu Desam Party, a key ally, has sought an appointment with Vajpayee on March 12 to discuss the drought in Andhra Pradesh and how the increase in the price of urea and di-ammonium phosphate would aggravate the problem for farmers.

Today, a Shiv Sena parliamentary party delegation met the Prime Minister and submitted a memorandum seeking a rollback.

The DMK, the Indian National Lok Dal, the Janata Dal (United) and the Samata Party are also planning to approach the Prime Minister with similar requests. These parties had termed the hike in fertiliser and diesel prices “anti-farmer”.

Expressing concern over the hike, the Shiv Sena, in its memorandum, said: “Agriculture has to cope with numerous hazards like drought, floods and non-remunerative prices. Even a modest raise in the issue price of fertilisers will have an adverse impact on the farming community.”

The party said the innovative proposals for the farming community envisaged in the budget will be nullified by the price hike.

The NDA allies and the Opposition had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha on Monday. The issue again came up today during zero hour when Samajwadi Party member Ramjilal Suman said the price increase announced by Jaswant Singh while presenting his budget had imposed an additional burden on farmers who were already reeling under the impact of drought and floods.

Warning that farmers all over the country may resort to agitation, the Samajwadi member pressed for immediate withdrawal of the hike in the prices of diesel and fertilisers.

The government should not treat this as party politics as it concerns the livelihood of farmers throughout the country, he said, and added that even BJP members had demanded a rollback realising the gravity of the situation. The Samajwadi member said if this was not done immediately, the fallout would be serious.

In another development, MPs from Kerala, cutting across party lines, called on the Prime Minister and asked him to declare the state drought-hit.

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