The work done by the Modi government for farmers had been unprecedented compared to the last 70 years, claims BJP’s Kisan Morcha chief Virendra Singh Mast. | Photo Credit: Getty Images
‘Will take up their genuine demands with govt.’
The BJP’s Kisan Morcha has invited farmers’ groups across the country for a dialogue on rural distress after several marches and agitations by them in the last year or so, with Morcha chief Virendra Singh Mast conceding that loan waivers were a “temporary solution” to what ails the farm sector.
At a press conference in New Delhi, Mr. Mast said: “I had invited the leaders of various farmers’ organisations when they took out a march last week and I am again saying that I am open to a discussion on all issues being faced by farmers and will take up their genuine demands with the government.”
The BJP-led government at the Centre has been at the receiving end of protests by farmer groups across the country, and the issue may even end up hurting the party’s electoral prospects in the five States that have had Assembly polls over the last two months. Sources say that Mr. Mast has been sounded off by party chief Amit Shah to open this dialogue and mitigate some of the negative feeling in rural areas about the party.
To a question on loan waiver for farmers, Mr. Mast said it could not be seen as a permanent solution to their problems. “Loan waiver to farmers cannot be a permanent solution, it can only provide temporary relief. We want to make farmers capable enough to repay their loans rather than seeking waiver,” he said.
He pointed to the loan waiver announced by the UPA government in 2008-09 and said it proved to be a temporary relief. “The problems faced by farmers, including indebtedness, are decades-old issues and cannot be resolved in one day. Their poor condition is because of the Congress,” he said.
He claimed that the work done by the Narendra Modi government for farmers had been unprecedented compared to the last 70 years. “It was the Modi government which implemented the Swaminathan Commission report on raising the support price for farmers. Farmers and agriculture have always been a priority for the Modi government. The government dedicated 52 per cent of its total allocation in the budget to them,” he said.