Can HD Kumaraswamy act against mill owners, irk Congress?

Bengaluru: Although Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy claims the government will act against private sugar mills that have defaulted on their payments to sugarcane growers, this may be easier said than done as many of their owners are members of the Congress, his coalition partner. 

The absence of the Jarkiholi brothers of Belagavi,  senior Congress leader of Davangere,  Shamanur Shivashakarappa,  former KPCC women's wing president, Lakshmi Hebbalkar, former minister, S R Patil and newly elected MLA, Anand Nyamagouda, at the meeting called by the Chief Minister to settle the dispute on Tuesday, is an indication of  their disregard for any decision  the  government may take on the issue, say worried farmer leaders.

The defiance of  the politicians in skipping the meeting puts a question mark on whether the Chief Minister will be able to take action against them, they argue. The farmer leaders recall worriedly that even former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had succumbed in the face of pressure from the sugar mills lobby and  diluted the rules, removing sections that prescribed criminal action against them for  defaulting on payment.

Their other worry is that Mr Kumaraswamy too has changed his tune after being highly critical of private sugar mills while in the opposition. Instead of doing some tough talking, he seems to be sympathizing with the problems of the mill owners and even called the sugarcane growers, goondas and anti-social elements, they regret.

Describing Tuesday's meeting as nothing but an eyewash intended to bolster Mr Kumaraswamy"s pro-farmer image, an office-bearer of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha wondered if politicians, who stayed away from a meeting called by the CM, could fall in line at his persuasion. 

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