Raising great expectations ahead of the Union Budget, a 31-member parliamentary panel will visit Maharashtra from Thursday for two days to study the farmers' issues, official sources said here on Wednesday.
It will be led by Parvatagouda C. Gaddigoudar, Chairperson, Standing Committee on Agriculture, and comprise 10 Rajya Sabha MPs and 21 Lok Sabha MPs.
As per available details, the MPs are likely to be put up at the five-star Radisson Blu Hotel in Nagpur where they will conduct meetings with various stakeholders and farming experts.
In the past, even visiting Presidents, Prime Ministers, Central ministers or top officials avoided conducting meetings pertaining to farmers from five-star hotels, but preferred other convenient and low-profile venues in the city which is Maharashtra's second capital, said sources.
The move has raised eyebrows in political circles, coming days after several top leaders in the Bharatiya Janata Party and government have advised MPs from avoiding "five-star" comforts and be closer to the people.
Since 2019, the government has even stopped the practice of accommodating newly-elected MPs in starred hotels while they waited to be allotted their official quarters in New Delhi.
Since the stay could range from a fortnight to a quarter (3 months), it imposed a huge financial burden on the government, but now the newly-elected lawmakers must either live at their respective state guest houses or the Western Court.
Though some farmers have been invited for tomorrow's meeting, the panel will tour around certain high-level government-run institutions such as Indian Council for Agriculture Research, Central Institute of Cotton Research, National Citrus Institute, National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning and others in the region and discuss agro-related issues with their heads and experts.
However, several of the Shiv Sena MPs on the panel are likely to skip the programmes as they will be busy with the 94th birth anniversary celebrations of the party's founder, the late Bal Thackeray in Mumbai.
When contacted, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM) President Kishore Tiwari -- one of the experts invited by the MPs panel -- said the time for all "study trips" is over and now it is time for "real ground action" to mitigate the sufferings of the farmers in the state and country.
"We have already sent a memorandum to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to tackle the farmland distress on top priority and allocate Rs 3 lakh crore under a 'Special National Agrarian Bailout Package' in the Union Budget 2020-2021, similar to the aid granted to banking, power, automobiles and FMCG sectors," Tiwari told IANS.
He has also urged the Central government to immediately set up a 'National Farmers' Rights Commission' on the lines of National Human Rights Commission followed by State Human Rights Commissions.
"These two measures alone, if implemented by the government, can end the scourge of farmers' suicides in the country between three-to-five years. Besides the Indian agriculture sector will take great strides and become world-class with the infusion of new technology in all aspects," Tiwari added.
Though government and hotel officials remained tight-lipped on the itinerary of the MP's panel, hectic preparations are currently underway to make their trip comfortable and fruitful.
The Maharashtra MPs on the panel include: Amol R. Kolhe, (Mrs) Navneet R. Rana, Vinayak B. Raut and Narayan Rane.
Besides, other prominent names from other parts of the country are Vaiko, Chandrapal Singh Yadav, R. Vaithilingam, Muhammad Sadiq, Sardar Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Partap Singh Bajwa, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Ram Kirpal Yadav, Virendra Singh, Mohan Mandavi, Afzal Ansari, etc.
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