By raking up the Turmeric Board issue related to the interest of turmeric farmers of Telangana’s Nizamabad, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)’s MLC Kalvakuntla Kavitha, the daughter of TRS supremo and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, has sought to put her( ) rival and sitting Nizamabad MP Arvind Dharmapuri on the defensive.
The former Nizamabad MP, Kavitha was defeated by Arvind from the constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Sharpening her attack on Arvind Wednesday, Kavitha accused him of allegedly betraying Nizamabad’s turmeric farmers by failing to persuade the BJP-ruled Centre to set up a Turmeric Board in the district. She said that in his campaign against her in the 2019 election, Arvind had charged her with letting down the local turmeric farmers by not bringing the Turmeric Board to the constituency.
Kavitha said Arvind had then made a pledge to the turmeric farmers that if he won the election it would be easy for him to influence the BJP-led central government to sanction the establishment of the Turmeric Board for the district, which would ensurefor their produce.
Reeling under the TRS’ attacks and farmers’ pressure, Arvind has maintained that instead of the Turmeric Board, he has got the Centre to set up the Regional Office and Extension Centre of Spices Board in Nizamabad, which, he claimed, was a “better deal” for the constituency as it has already allocated over Rs 100 crore for their crop.
Dismissing the BJP MP’s claim as “misleading”, Kavitha however said, “All that turmeric farmers of the district got was Rs 1.92 crore.” Releasing data that she obtained through her RTI application regarding allocations for Nizamabad’s turmeric farmers, she said in the last three years Arvind could get an allocation of only Rs 1.92 crore from the central dispensation for about 1 lakh such farmers. “If you divide it among all of them, it boils down to less than Rs 200 per turmeric farmer. So, all he (Arvind) did was to deceive farmers,” she alleged.
Citing the RTI data, Kavitha said that for 2020-21, Rs 1,18,71,000 was allocated, including Rs 75 lakhs for boilers and Rs 43.71 lakhs for turmeric polishers. For 2021-22, an amount of Rs 74.81 lakhs was allocated, including Rs 39.73 lakhs for boilers, Rs 6.58 lakhs for turmeric polishers, Rs 15 lakhs for Silpaulin sheets, Rs 10 lakhs for the spices producer group’s assistance in the identified cluster, and Rs 3.50 lakhs for setting up the basic quality testing equipment.
“While Arvind is making tall claims about Rs 100 crore allocation for turmeric farmers, each farmer got only Rs 200,’’ the TRS leader claimed. She said that as the first woman MP from Telangana in 2014, she took the fight of Nizamabad’s turmeric farmers to New Delhi and struggled for the establishment of the Turmeric Board but in vain.
Kavitha claimed she had not been commenting on the issue for the last three years because of her respect for the mandate given by the Nizamabad people as she wanted to give the current MP “time to do something regarding his poll promise regarding Turmeric Board made to the local farmers”.
In his defence, Arvind has maintained that instead of the Turmeric Board he brought “something even better” to Nizamabad in the form of the Regional Office and Extension Centre of Spices Board that the Centre set up in the district in February 2020. “The Turmeric Board will have some limitations and will not provide all the services that farmers need but the Spices Board will provide comprehensive services to farmers growing turmeric, chilli and other spices. It will assist in increasing production and growing of good quality crops,” he said.
However, joining issue with the BJP MP, Kavitha, who seems to be gearing up to again throw her hat into the ring in Nizamabad in the 2024 election, alleged that “the Regional Spices Board office has nothing but a few chairs and two people managing it” and that as per the RTI reply it conducted just eight meetings in 2020-21 via video conferences. Its officials say the Board could not work for some time in the beginning as within a month of being established the Covid-induced lockdown was imposed.