Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar Wednesday accused the Centre of not clearing the godowns ahead of the wheat harvesting season, charging it with trying to put the state government in "poor light" during election time. Jakhar said the state government had suggested the Election Commission of India (ECI) hold the Lok Sabha polls in the state before the commencement of wheat harvesting for the smooth procurement of crop.
"The state government had requested the ECI to conduct elections in Punjab before the start of wheat harvesting (in April). But Punjab has been put in the last phase for the polling," he said. "There is no inch of space in the godown for storing fresh crop. No effort has been made by the Centre to make space for the incoming crop. Where will we stock the wheat," Jakhar questioned while accusing the BJP-led central government of deliberately trying to "sabotage" the Congress government here.
Any problem in crop lifting will lead to harassment of farmers, Jakhar said. "There may be administrative problems also like most of the government staff will be engaged in holding elections (during wheat procurement)," he said.
If the elections were to be held before the start of wheat harvesting (in April), the government machinery would have been free for smooth procurement of crop, he said. "Now (with Punjab being put in the last phase of polling), the government will be preparing for elections as well as for wheat procurement and if there is any deficiency, it will reflect on us," the Congress leader said. However, Jakhar claimed that the state government would make all the necessary arrangements for wheat procurement.
Wheat harvesting normally starts from the second week of April. Wheat is an important Kharif crop and Punjab is one of the major producers of the winter crop. The polling in Punjab will take place on May 19, which is the last phase of Lok Sabha elections.
(With inputs from agencies.)