Sugar Cos Should Drop Hidden Agenda: Manikrao
Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Manikrao Thakre today appealed to owners of sugar factories in western Maharashtra to spell out their stand on increasing price of sugarcane as demanded by agitating farmers.

"We want the management of sugar companies to drop their hidden agenda and sit across the table with farmers so that they can get competitive price for their produce," Thakre told reporters at a press conference here.

He denied the allegation levelled by Swabhiman Shetkari Sanghatana chief Sadubhau Khot that the "cold war" between NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit Pawar is denying farmers the appropriate price for their produce.

NCP controls a sizable number of sugar factories in the party stronghold of western Maharashtra.

Farmers have been protesting since last few days against refusal of cooperative sugar factories in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts of western Maharashtra to give Rs 3,000 per ton as first advance on sugarcane purchase this season. Factories have agreed to pay Rs 2,300 per ton.

When asked whether Maharashtra in general and Vidarbha region in particular was kept out of recent reshuffle of Union Council of Ministers, Thakre replied in affirmative.

"Centre has ignored the interests of backward region of Vidarbha despite speculation over the inclusion of an additional minister in the Union Cabinet causing utter dismay to people. The MPCC has brought this injustice to the notice of the Congress high command and requested for reconsideration at the earliest," he said.

Thakre said that MPCC will be organising division-wise rallies to be followed by a state-level rally for creating awareness among people about the benefits of FDI in retail.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan will address the state- level rally that will be held in Akola on November 17.

On procurement of cotton, Thakre said the party unit has suggested NAFED and Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) to open at least 10 centres in each district. "A few centres have already been opened by them in Vidarbha region," he added.
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