Thiruvananthapuram, Jun 2 (IANS): With the Catholic Church announcement that if the BJP government at the Centre raises the price of rubber to Rs 300 per kg, it will see to it that the party gets its first MP from Kerala, sending shockwaves to the ruling Left government, the Karshaka Samgham, the peasant wing of CPI-M said, said that they are starting a protest demanding Rs 300 price at Tamarassery in Kozhikode.
Incidentally it was in March, Athe Archbishop of Thalassery diocese, Mar Joseph Pamplani, addressing a public rally of farmers, said that the Church is not averse to the BJP and if the BJP government at the Centre raises the price of rubber to Rs 300 per kg, the church will see to it that the party gets its first MP from Kerala.
When both the Left and the Congress led UDF came down heavily on him, the Archbishop said that his point was to get the maximum benefit for the farmers who have been facing a financial crunch after the price of rubber came down.
The districts of Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam and Pathanamthitta are where most of the rubber farmers are concentrated and a majority are from the Christian community.
Another reason why the CPI-M decided to act and start a protest demanding the price of rubber should be Rs 300 is because the third biggest member in the now ruling Left, the Kerala Congress-Mani, which moved out from the Congress-led UDF in 2020, has huge backing of the Catholic Church and its chairman Jose K.Mani has come under heavy duress from it for not doing anything to put pressure on the Centre.
However the demand of Rs 300 per kilogram at the moment appears to be an outrageous one as the current price of one kilogram of natural rubber in Kerala stands around Rs 146 only.
Consequent to the price remaining stagnant for a long while now, the rubber farmers, especially those engaged in homestead farming, are finding the going tough and many of them are unable to even break even and have resorted to either stop the daily tapping, while some have already cut down their trees and opted for other cash crops.
The Congress-led UDF is blaming the Pinarayi Vijayan government for not keeping their word of providing a benchmark price to all rubber farmers, like what they did during the 2011-16 tenure of the Oommen Chandy government, when a subsidy was given to the farmers as the price fell below a particular level.