Modi woos farmers in Maharashtra

Accusing the UPA government of ignoring farmers’ interests, Narendra Modi on Thursday spoke about his vision for addressing their concerns, which includes saving them from clutches of money-lenders, rationalising farm exports and inter-linking of rivers.

Addressing a public meeting in this cotton belt of Maharashtra, he raked up the issue of suicides by farmers because of heavy debts and ‘lack of support’ from the government and banks.

Targeting the government, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate said more farmers have died due to suicides during the 10-year-rule of Congress-led UPA than soldiers on the borders.

‘...When farmers are committing suicides, the government in Delhi is sleeping peacefully,’ the Gujarat chief minister said.

‘For a variety of reasons the farmers have to take debt and falls under a debt trap,’ Modi said while talking about the causes of their suicides.

He vowed that if his government comes to power after the Lok Sabha polls, ‘farmers won’t have to go to Sahukars (money-lenders) for loans at exorbitant interest’. He said first guarantee of a government must be that a farmer cannot be allowed to die.

Taking up the issues of cotton farmers, he accused the Centre of causing losses to them by banning the export of the commodity even while promoting meat exports. ‘Why was cotton export banned,’ he questioned.

Taking a jibe at the government, Modi said that ‘it has become a fashion to declare a package after every crisis’ and suggested that it was ‘time to pack those who keep giving these packages that don’t reach you (farmers)’.

Narendra Modi also asked farmers in Maharashtra not to resort to suicide and assured that his party was firmly behind them.

‘Committing suicides is not the way to fight the crisis,’ Modi said during a ‘kisan pe charcha’ (discussion on farmers) interaction with farmers at this village in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha region which has seen the maximum number of farmer suicides in the last decade.

BJP will support the farmers in Maharashtra who were recently hit by severe hailstorms, Modi said.
‘Not only are farmers committing suicide, but after them, their family members are also ending their lives,’ Modi said.

Saying that more farmers were dying than the number of fatalities in the war, Modi said this was not a political issue but an issue of national pain.

‘We will have to develop a system where our hard-working farmers won’t have to commit suicide,’ he said.

When banks were nationalised, a promise was made that banks would help the poor. But now this is not the situation, he said.

‘Hardly five per cent of the banks’ funds go to farmers. It should be made mandatory for banks to give loans to farmers. An important reason why farmers are committing suicide is that they borrow money from money-lenders,’ Modi said. Farmers will have to be freed from the of clutches of money-lenders, Modi said.

‘When big defaulters fail to repay loans, banks turn a blind eye. However, they run after farmers who fail to repay loans,’ Modi said. ‘If we have to revive the country’s economy, we will have to boost the agriculture,’ Modi said.
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