With the Lok Sabha election fast approaching, the Kerala Congress (M) has begun laying the groundwork to address the concerns of farmers. In an effort to solidify its support in Central Travancore, KC(M) has launched initiatives to win over farmers by drawing attention to their various issues, including a decline in rubber prices, title deeds for settler farmers in the highlands, and wild animal attacks.
Following a series of meetings in all 14 districts to address farmers’ issues, the party on Saturday called for a hike in the support price of rubber from Rs 170 to Rs 200/kg. Interestingly, KC(M) chairman Jose K Mani made the demand on the same day the LDF government launched its public outreach initiative, the Nava Kerala Sadas, in Kasaragod. Notably, Jose urged that the increase be implemented in December, hoping for a favourable announcement from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan when the Cabinet team arrives in Kottayam on December 12 as part of the programme.
While it does not expect the support price to be hiked to Rs 200, the party is optimistic of a Rs 10-20 increase to placate rubber farmers ahead of the general election. It was Jose’s father and KC(M) stalwart K M Mani who introduced the Rubber Price Incentive Scheme (RPIS), as part of the UDF government, in 2015, setting the basic price at Rs 150/kg. The LDF government increased it to Rs 170 shortly before the previous assembly election.
It is learnt that Jose had held discussions with the chief minister before raising the demand. Jose believes that despite its financial difficulties, the government will be perceptive. Speaking to TNIE, he emphasised that the government has released all its dues to farmers under the RPIS.
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