Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today criticised his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh over his letter urging the Centre not to allow GI tagging of basmati rice to Madhya Pradesh.
Taking to Twitter, Mr Chouhan alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister's letter was "politically motivated".
Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him not to allow geographical indication (GI) tagging of basmati to Madhya Pradesh in the larger interest of Punjab and other states that already have GI tag for basmati.
In his tweet in Hindi, Shivraj Chouhan said, "I strongly condemn the letter written by the Punjab Chief Minister to @PMOIndia regarding allotment of GI tagging. It is politically motivated."
"This is not an issue of Punjab or Madhya Pradesh, it's a subject pertaining to the whole country's farmers and their livelihoods," he said.
Apart from Punjab, other states that already have GI tagging for basmati are Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western UP, and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Madhya Pradesh has sought inclusion of its 13 districts for GI tagging for basmati.
However, the Punjab Chief Minister has urged the Prime Minister to direct the concerned authorities not to disturb the status quo in this matter, saying that is was essential for safeguarding the interests of farmers and basmati exporters of India.
He also contended that any dilution of registration might help Pakistan, which also produces basmati as per GI tagging in the international market.
Countering his argument, Mr Chouhan said, "The case of APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority) with Pakistan has no relationship with Madhya Pradesh's claim as it is under the GI Act of India. It is not connected to inter-country claims of basmati rice."
He asserted that GI tagging was a matter of pride for farmers and recognition of their years of toils.
"The matter should not be turned into a Punjab vs Madhya Pradesh tussle. GI tagging will provide stability to basmati prices in international markets and bolster our exports," the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister said.
The Punjab Chief Minister has alleged that Madhya Pradesh's move infringes the GI tagging procedure and laws.
However, Mr Chouhan said, "Madhya Pradesh has a written recorded history since 1908 of basmati production in 13 districts. Records of supplying seeds to farmers in MP in the year 1944 was recorded in the records of Scindia State."
He said that the Indian Institute of Rice Research, Hyderabad, had recorded production of basmati rice in their Production Oriented Survey Report for the last 25 years.
"Basmati exporters of Punjab and Haryana are procuring basmati rice from MP. This is also supported by Government of India data of export from the Mandideep (industrial area), Madhya Pradesh," he added.
In June, Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel had said that the state government would move the top court to challenge a Madras High Court's ruling in the matter of not providing the tag to Madhya Pradesh's basmati-growing regions.
The Madhya Pradesh government and a basmati growers' association had lost two separate cases in the court filed in 2016 to challenge the exclusion of the districts from a map submitted by the APEDA for the tags.
Mr Patel said they condemn Punjab Chief Minister's move.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra said the Congress is anti-farmer and that is why Punjab was opposing Madhya Pradesh's claim.
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