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‘No move to buy foodgrain directly from farmers’

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The Central government stated in Lok Sabha today that no decision was taken by Food Corporation of India to procure foodgrain directly from farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Replying during Question Hour, Food Minister K V Thomas said: “The Government of India cannot come to Punjab and procure foodgrain. We want the services of the governments of Punjab, Haryana along with the Rajasthan government because we cannot directly purchase foodgrain from any part of the country.”

Responding to a query from Harsimrat Kaur Badal, he said, “In the case of arthias (middlemen), there is a policy matter which has to be discussed and settled.” Thomas said he had discussed the issue with the Punjab government.

Backed by Opposition members, Badal mounted a spirited attack on the central government over FCI “corruption.” Several ministers, including Ambika Soni, Kumari Selja and Jitendra Singh, were visibly agitated over Badal persisting with the charge without meeting any resistance.

10-member cabinet in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna on Tuesday expanded his Cabinet by inducting 10 members, including one member each of BSP and UKD and two independent MLAs, who helped Congress gain majority in the Assembly. The swearing-in function was delayed by more than an hour, apparently due to protest by Dinesh Dhanai, independent MLA from Tehri who wanted a cabinet berth.

Governor Margaret Alva administered the oath of office and secrecy to the new ministers at the ONGC stadium here.

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