Representative Photo
Representative Photo

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday wrote to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi after her party colleague and Punjab CM Amarinder Singh opposed grant of geographical indication (GI) tag for basmati rice produced in MP.

Chouhan accused the Congress of working against the interest of farmers of MP.

"I am asking you why the Congress party is against farmers of MP. Why is your chief minister openly working against the interest of MP farmers? Please reply," Chouhan's two-page letter said.

On Thursday, Chouhan had tweeted that the Punjab CM's letter to the Centre was "politically motivated".

Amarinder Singh had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him not to allow GI tagging of MP's basmati rice in the larger interest of Punjab and other states which already have this tag.

Apart from Punjab, the other states are Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western UP and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Madhya Pradesh has sought that 13 of its districts be included for GI tagging for basmati.

The Punjab CM has urged the PM not to disturb status quo in this matter, saying it was essential for safeguarding the interests of farmers and basmati exporters of India.

Singh had contended that any dilution of registration might help Pakistan, which also produces basmati as per GI tagging.

Countering his argument, Chouhan had tweeted, "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." In June, Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel had said the state government would move the apex court to challenge a Madras High Court ruling on not providing the tag to MP's basmati-growing regions.

The MP 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.

Meanwhile, former MP CM Kamal Nath expressed surprise over Chouhan writing to Sonia Gandhi instead of addressing it to the PM.

"This reflects how much understanding he has of the issue. He just wants to do politics and has nothing to do with the farmers' or the state's interest," Nath said in a statement.

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