The secret of KCR’s Delhi tour is out. He is not in Delhi to hobnob with the BJP national leadership to confuse and confound the Telangana BJP. He is there to plead for Centre’s help in saving the rice millers of the state. And he cannot afford to anger them as they control the milling and paddy procurement in the state.
With the Central Government categorically stating that it cannot procure more than 60 lakh tonnes of fine quality paddy this year, the KCR government is in a quandary. Over 3000 rice mills, most of them in the hands of politically powerful satraps, want this limit to be lifted. It is because of their pressure that KCR is in Delhi. His problem is that these powerful rice millers control the levers of power in rural Telangana. The rice mills offer direct employment to 2 lakh people and an estimated 10 lakh people depend on the mills. Angering them would have a ripple effect on electoral politics.
Each rice mill needs up to Rs 15 crore of investment and its daily maintenance touches up to Rs 1 lakh. If there is no additional procurement, then a large number of the mills would be closed. The state government is worried about the fallout of this situation
Last year too, there was serious unrest among the millers and KCR had to marshal all his resources to convince the FCI to procure the rice from the millers. At one stage, he offered to buy every grain of rice, but miserably failed to do so. This led to a lot of discontent among the farmers and millers. This time, he tried to force the farmers not to sow paddy this year. But, that seems to have failed.
But this time the Centre appears quite determined to buy only what is required. It is not inclined to satisfy state governments by buying more than what is needed. This has put KCR in a confusion and it is because of this that he is in Delhi.