Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath Sunday asked the Congress where were the well-wishers of farmers during 2012-17 when they faced starvation. The chief minister posed the query shortly after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra launched a blistering attack on the UP government over alleged unpaid dues to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore to sugarcane farmers. “When our government was formed, the pending cane dues were around Rs 57,800 crore. The amount was bigger than the budgets of many states. But we paid it,” asserted Adityanath. “In the previous regimes of the SP and BSP, nothing was done for the sugarcane farmers, (and) as a result, they died of starvation (bhukhmari),” he added. Earlier during the day, Priyanka Gandhi had attacked the state government over the alleged unpaid dues of sugarcane farmers, claiming in a tweet that ‘chowkidars’ (watchmen) were only working for the rich, not for the poor. The UP chief minister struck back and asked, “Where were the so-called well-wishers of the farmers from 2012 to 2017, when the farmers were on the brink of starvation. Why have they woken up from their slumber now?” Seeking to put the records straight, he said, “The sugarcane cultivation area in the state has increased by 22 per cent to 28 lakh hectare, and a number of closed sugar mills have been restarted. The farmers are happy (khushaal) now.” Sharing a media report on Twitter, Priyanka Gandhi had claimed that dues of sugarcane farmers had crossed Rs 10,000 crore in the state. “The families of sugarcane farmers toil day and night but the Uttar Pradesh government does not even take the responsibility of paying their dues,” she had said. “Rs 10,000 crore of farmers’ dues means everything, including their children’s education, food, health, and the next produce comes to a standstill. These chowkidars only work for the rich and do not care about the poor,” she had claimed. Priyanka Gandhi was recently appointed the Congress general secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh.