Archbishop Pamplany flays CPM, Cong for apathy to rubber farmers

The Thalassery Arch Bishop.(photo:wikipedia)
The Thalassery Arch Bishop.(photo:wikipedia)

Thalassery: Joseph Pamplany, the Archbishop of the Thalassery Diocese of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, has caused tremors in Kerala political landscape by suggesting the BJP can hope of electing its candidates to the Lok Sabha from seats in the state if rubber farmers are favoured with a decent support price for their crop.

The Archbishop has been facing flak from both the CPM and the Congress after his statement. He has warned his critics not to ignore the problems faced by farmers by blaming the BJP.

He also sought to know what exactly had the Left Democratic Front, which had promised to raise the floor price of natural rubber to Rs 250 upon coming to power, done to address the issue. Also, what did Congress do to help the rubber farmers when it was in power, he asked.

He launched a scathing attack on the Congress as well as the CPM for paying lip service to the interests of rubber farmers reeling under poor crop prices amid rising expenses.

The Archbishop also clarified that no political party would be unduly favoured by his community. “We are speaking out as there are no other options left. No leader should daydream of ignoring our demands by shifting the onus on the BJP," he said clarifying his stand.

“We do not believe that any particular political outfit has unilaterally taken over the responsibility of protecting minorities. We firmly believe that God will be the only one to save us. He also declared that the Church did not intend to lay the red carpet to anyone," the Archbishop further said.

The Archbishop has found himself at the centre of a row by stating the other day that high-range farmers would help allay the BJP’s worries of not having a parliament member from Kerala if it raised the floor price of rubber to Rs 300.

“We can tell the Centre, whatever be your party, we will vote you to power. You have to raise the rubber price to Rs 300 and take the rubber from the farmers. Then the people of the high-range will give you an MP,” Pamplany had said while addressing a farmers’ protest meet at Alakkodu in Kannur district on Saturday.

Archbishop elaborates on remarks

“I only conveyed the general sentiment of the high-range farmers during the speech at Alakkodu. They should be given the opportunity to survive. I did not emphasize the floor price of Rs 300 alone. I focused on five major points during the speech. This included the demand to declare a floor price of Rs 300 for rubber as well as urgent steps to stop the revenue recovery proceedings against the farmers.

“The decision to stop revenue recovery can be made by the Government that rules Kerala. Who had included the promise to raise the floor price of rubber to Rs 250 in their election manifesto? What value did they accord to that statement? The floor price was fixed at Rs 175. But whether procurement of rubber is happening at that price? How many are receiving this amount?

“Will the LDF government, which currently rules the state, help the farmers by putting the revenue recovery proceedings on hold? We will extend all support to them in that case. Also, can the LDF government ensure a floor price of Rs 250 for rubber as promised in their election manifesto? In that case, we assure our wholehearted support to you.

“Will Congress help us to achieve these demands? If yes, our complete support will be there for you. I had specifically named all three political organizations during my speech. No one should daydream of trivializing the issue by placing it on the BJP as soon as hearing that party’s name. The high-range farmers are standing firm on their decision in this regard.”

As to the statement by the CPM State Secretary MV Govindan that no one should dream of capturing Kerala by putting forward a trump card, Mar Pamplany responded it might be the position of both Govindan and his party. “We honour the CPM’s right to resist the BJP on the political front. In any case, we are not planning to roll out the red carpet to anyone.”

Pamplany also has some words for AICC General Secretary K C Venugopal, who earlier lashed out at him for “supporting the BJP, which is leading the hunt for minorities.”

“We are raising this demand not in our capacity as a minority section but as the high-range farmers. It’s the Government which is in power at the Centre who should help us find a solution to the issue. What did the party that this leader is representing do on matters including import duty when it was in power? Why didn’t they find a solution to the issue then? Shouldn’t we take that too into consideration? If you go on screaming that we supported the BJP when what we did actually was to raise the farmers’ issue, we won’t flee hearing it.

“We are speaking here in our capacity as high-range farmers and not as the Christian community or as a minority section. Also, we don’t believe any particular political party has taken on themselves the task of protecting minorities. What we believe is that the God Almighty will save us.”

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