Prime Minister Narendra Modi today released Rs 18,000 crore to over nine crore farmer families under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) programme. With the push of a button, PM Modi enabled the transfer of money at an event that the ruling BJP has made into a big exercise amid the protest by farmers against three new farm laws.
“Some people are spreading myth and lies that land will be taken away if farmers enter into contract farming,” PM Modi said, alluding to the opposition’s attack that farmers won’t benefit from the three new farm laws.
Continuing his offensive, PM Modi turned towards West Bengal for not accepting central funds for farmers. “I am saddened that only West Bengal government is not associated with this scheme… Many farmers from Bengal have even written to the centre. It is the same Bengal government that is opposing this benefit for the farmers, but goes to Punjab and support farm protest,” PM Modi said. The West Bengal assembly election is due early next year.
While the Mamata Banerjee government wants central funds for farmers routed through it, the centre wants to send it to farmers directly.
“These people who are talking big things on behalf of farmers today, what did they do when they were in power? We brought positive changes,” PM Modi said.
Today’s instalment of Rs 2,000 to farmers also comes on the birth anniversary of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, celebrated as Good Governance Day by the ruling BJP.
The PM-KISAN programme provides Rs 6,000 per year to small and marginal farmers, payable in three instalments of Rs 2,000 each. It is transferred directly to the bank accounts of farmers.
In a video conference, PM Modi spoke to some farmers selected for the event from several states, who narrated the problems they faced and the innovations they made with the help of government grants.
The event by PM Modi is being seen as an effort to blunt the farmer protests by highlighting the benefits of agricultural reforms and bringing out stories of success from villages across India.
Thousands of farmers have dug in on the highways in the Delhi-Haryana border in protest against the farm laws. They say they fear that minimum support price (MSP) would be removed as the next logical step of the farm laws. The government, however, says the farm laws remove middlemen and are in fact beneficial for the farmers, and MSP would remain. Another round of talks between farmer leaders and the government is awaited.
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