Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said some people from Maharashtra only did politics in the name of farmers who had to earlier depend on middlemen to get money from the sale of their produce, comments aimed at Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) founder Sharad Pawar, who handled the agriculture portfolio during the UPA government. Modi asserted the true meaning of social justice is freedom from poverty and when the nation’s poor get ample opportunities to grow in life.
He was speaking at an event in the temple town of Shirdi in western Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district after inaugurating several development projects and rolling out a financial assistance scheme for the state’s farmers. The PM maintained the BJP-led government at the Centre is working to empower farmers with true intentions.
Those doing politics of vote in the name of farmers have made you yearn for every drop of water. Some people in Maharashtra only did politics in the name of farmers. A senior leader of Maharashtra served as the country’s agriculture minister. I personally respect him, but what has he done for farmers? Modi said, without naming Pawar. The NCP founder served as the agriculture minister when the Congress-led UPA government was in office at the Centre (2004-14).
Modi said when Sharad Pawar was the Union agriculture minister, farmers had to be at the mercy of middlemen. When he was the agriculture minister, for months, farmers had to depend on middlemen for their money. Our government gave MSP (minimum support price) money directly into the bank accounts of farmers, he added.
The PM said there has been a multi-fold increase in procurement of crops under the MSP mechanism after his government assumed office in 2014. In seven years, food grains worth Rs 13.5 lakh crore were procured under MSP (by the Modi government), while this figure was a mere Rs 3.5 lakh crore during the tenure of a senior leader in the earlier government, Modi said, referring to the Congress-led ruling coalition.
Before 2014, the purchase of pulses and oilseeds was only to the tune of Rs 500 crore-600 crore, but his government has given more than Rs 1.15 lakh crore to farmers for these products, the PM stated. On the recent Union cabinet decision to hike MSP for rabi (winter) crops, Modi informed the gathering that the minimum support price of gram has been increased by Rs 105 and that of wheat and safflower by Rs 150.
He said the MSP of sugarcane has been hiked to Rs 315 per quintal. In the last nine years, ethanol worth about Rs 70,000 crore has been purchased and the money has reached directly to sugarcane farmers. To ensure timely payment to sugarcane farmers, assistance worth thousands of crores of rupees has been provided to sugar mills and cooperative societies,” Modi maintained.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were also present at the event. On the occasion, the PM dedicated to the nation, the left bank (85 kms) canal network of the Nilwande Dam.
He said the Nilwande Dam work had been pending for five decades. The Centre is working on completing 26 more irrigation projects which will benefit farmers and parched areas of Maharashtra, Modi said.
The welfare of the poor is the top priority for Maharashtra’s double-engine government (a reference to BJP and its allies in power in the state and also at the Centre), he said. Modi inaugurated, dedicated to the nation or laid foundation stones for multiple development projects worth about Rs 7,500 crore in sectors like health, rail, road, oil and gas.
These development projects include an Ayush Hospital at Ahmednagar Civil Hospital; electrification of the Kurduwadi-Latur Road railway section (186 Km); third and fourth railway lines connecting Jalgaon to Bhusaval (24.46 km); four laning of Sangli to Borgaon section of NH-166 (Package-I); and additional facilities at Manmad Terminal of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd.He also laid the foundation stone for the Maternal and Child Health wing at Ahmednagar Civil Hospital.
At the event, the PM distributed Ayushman (health) and Swamitva (property ownership) cards to beneficiaries. He launched the ‘Namo Shetkari Mahasanman Nidhi Yojana’, a flagship programme of the Eknath Shinde-led government which will benefit more than 86 lakh farmer-beneficiaries.
The scheme, under which eligible farmers will get Rs 6,000 per year from the Maharashtra government, is targeted at beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (under which Rs Rs 6,000 is distributed to cultivators in instalments by the Centre). After the launch of the ‘Namo Shetkari Mahasanman Nidhi Yojana’, eligible farmers in the state will now get a total finance assistance of Rs 12,000 per year (Rs 6,000 each from the Maharashtra government and the Centre).
The PM spoke about distributing 1.10 crore Ayushman Cards to beneficiaries in Maharashtra who will receive health cover up to Rs 5 lakh for which the central government is spending Rs 70,000 crore. He said the Centre is providing free ration to the poor and constructing pucca houses for them.
Modi touched upon the newly-launched PM Vishwakarma Yojana which aids lakhs of families of carpenters, goldsmiths, potters and sculptors with the central government earmarking more than Rs 13,000 crore for the scheme. Modi said his government is working to strengthen the cooperative movement and added more than 2 lakh cooperative societies are being formed across the country.” Maharashtra has immense potential and possibilities and faster development of the state will help in speedy growth of the country, said the PM.
Earlier in the day, Modi performed pooja at the Shri Saibaba Samadhi Temple in Shirdi. Among other projects, Modi inaugurated the new ‘Darshan Queue’ complex at Shirdi. It is a state-of-the-art building envisaged to provide comfortable waiting areas for devotees visiting the Saibaba Temple. The foundation stone for the complex was laid by Modi in October 2018.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)