The BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday trained his guns on NCP president Sharad Pawar, questioning his decision to enforce a ban on export of cotton at a time when prices were rising in international markets. Modi said, “The number of farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha alone surpasses the total number of soldiers killed in the battlefield.”
On a day’s tour to cotton-growing belt of Vidarbha, Modi said, “The Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar cannot overlook the wrong policies taken by the government that lead to agrarian crisis in the country. Pawar will have to explain the decision to allow ban on cotton export,” he said.
Interestingly, Modi’s attack on Pawar comes at a time when the NCP president has been soft on Gujarat chief minister. At the Jan Chetna Rally held at Wardha, Modi said, “At a time when the prices of cotton were rising in international markets, government took the decision to ban export of cotton. In Gujarat alone, it cost the farmers financial loss up to Rs 7,000 crore.”
Modi said, “The agrarian crisis was an outcome of the government’s total apathy towards farmers in Maharashtra and rest of country.” He added, “Pawar, who hails from Maharashtra which has recorded the highest number of farmers’ suicides, cannot absolve himself of the responsibilities as he also happens to be the Union Agriculture Minister.”
Modi said, “I have come to Vidarbha to understand the problems of the farmers who are reeling under major financial debt.” He said the government needs to formulate a new policy for farmers in the cotton belt. It should be based on 5 F formula — farm, fibre, fabric, fashion and foreign.
Citing an example, he said, “A small country like Bangladesh has emerged as a player in ready-made garments. But India has major potential but its hard-working farmers are driven to commit suicides.” Modi said, “The government will have to provide sustained help to farmers and not one-time package which has become a trend in the UPA.”
Modi also stressed on having water credit policy on the lines of carbon credit to ensure better management of water which is critical to agriculture.