Shah slams Cong over farm distress, says party treated farmers as vote bank

Amply indicating that farmers’ issue would occupy centre-stage in run up to the crucial 2019 Lok Sabha polls, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah today blamed the previous Congress-led governments at the Centre for the farm distress and charged the party with treating farmers as vote banks.

Addressing the inaugural day of the 2-day BJP Kisan Morcha’s national convention at Gorakhpur this evening, Shah said the country’s farmers were regarded as vote banks by the previous dispensations preceding the current Narendra Modi government at the Centre.

“It is unfortunate that despite being an agrarian economy with the farm sector contributing almost 15% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the country never witnessed a pro-agricultural dispensation before the Modi government came to power in 2014,” he noted.

He also blamed Congress for allegedly reneging on its farm loan waiver promise in Karnataka saying before coming to power the party had promised to waive Rs 48,000 crore worth of agricultural loans, but so far loans worth Rs 1,800 crore had been waived in the Southern state.

“The previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government during its 10 year central rule (2004-14) waived a total of only Rs 53,000 crore of farm loan, while the Modi government’s new scheme of providing minimum income guarantee to small and marginal farmers would incur Rs 7,50,000 crore in 10 years or Rs 75,000 crore annually,” he said claiming it would benefit 130 million farmers as against the total beneficiary count of 30 million during the UPA regime scheme.

Tomorrow, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address the convention, where he would formally launch the flagship farmers’ minimum income guarantee scheme PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana with the coming polls only a few weeks away.

The scheme guarantees annual support of Rs 6,000 in three instalments to about 125 million small and marginal farmers with land holdings of less than 2 hectares. Uttar Pradesh would be the biggest beneficiary with almost 23.5 million small and marginal farmers falling under the umbrella. The beneficiary farmer would be paid Rs 2,000 every four months directly in their bank accounts. The scheme has been launched retrospectively from December 1, 2018.

Modi would facilitate the transfer the first instalment of Rs 2,000 to about 120 million farmers tomorrow before heading to Prayagraj (Allahabad) for another event.

Recalling that opposition leaders, including Rahul Gandhi had been making fun of the ambitious scheme, Shah said the Modi government had scientifically computed the instalment amount of Rs 2,000 for the farmer to allow them purchase farm inputs, such as fertiliser and seed during sowing, without taking recourse to local money lenders and getting into a debt trap.

Meanwhile, Shah exhorted the Kisan Morcha members to equip themselves with information about the farm related schemes launched by the Modi government and reach out to the farmers to counter the opposition narrative and taking their support in the coming polls.

Recalling the recent Pulwama terrorist attack on the CRPF convoy in more than 40 security personnel were killed, Shah observed India today needed a strong government for securing the borders and sternly dealing with the treat posed by Pakistan.