Shimla: Expressing major concern over the recent crash of apple prices, Himachal Congress on Friday staged a silent protest at The Ridge, Shimla against the exploitation of farmers as well as orchardists.

Congress leaders under the leadership of state party President Kuldeep Rathore sat infront of the statue of the first Chief Minister of the state Dr YS Parmar and demanded the state government to intervene in the matter to save the orchardists from capitalists and has also demanded the resignation of Horticulture Minister Mahender Singh.

While addressing the media, Kuldeep Rathore strongly criticized the anti-farmer and anti- horticulturists policies of the BJP government and said that both state and central governments are not worried about the country.

He accused the state and central government of being cahoot with the capitalists like Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani and said that apple is the major contributor to the economy of the state but today the apple economy, as well as the future of apple orchardists, is in jeopardy due to negligence of the government.

Lashing out at Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, Kuldeep Rathore said that CM calls himself an orchardist, but is not taking any step to help the orchardists in such a situation. He further criticized CM over his statement in which he suggested that the orchardists not to pluck their apples for the time being and said that his statement is completely illogical and CM should provide relief to the orchardists instead of making such statements.

“Horticulture Minister Mahender Singh is also silent on this matter when he should talk with the orchardists of the state” he added.

Rathore said that the state government had granted a huge subsidy to Adani when he purchased land to construct cold stores in the state. This was done because the state government had an impression that he will take care of apple growers’ interests, but now he has emerged as the biggest enemy of the orchardists.

“Adani is making huge profits by buying apples at lower rates and selling them at higher rates,” said Rathore.

He further said that the state government had assured the orchardists that the rates of cartons and trays will not be hiked this year. Despite this, the government betrayed the orchardists and hiked the rates of cartons and trays. 

Congress has warned the state government to launch a mass movement if it fails to provide relief to the orchardists.