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BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Thursday spelt out his vision for agriculture, stressing that he favoured policies that would double per-hectare production with innovative practices at low cost, usher in land reforms and promote use of technology, value-addition with agro-based industries and direct market linkage.
He was talking to farmers from across the country at a ‘chai pe charcha’ programme in this hailstorm-affected village of Yavatmal district — one of the 35 most suicide-affected districts in the country.
Modi, however, refrained from committing anything on increasing the prices of farm products as one of the ways to take farmers out of crisis, though he said the government must help farmers do better by making available better farm inputs, technology and loans on lower interest rates.
He advocated a dedicated railway farm transport machinery to ensure better and fast delivery at cheaper rate. “Farmers could get Re 1 more on every litre if milk could be transported by trains instead of tankers,” he said. Modi said he supported genetically modified crops. “I am all for use of technology,” he said.
“More farmers have ended lives in India than soldiers who have become martyrs. My sentiments are with the families of those who have committed suicide. There is no greater inspiration for me than to do something for you. Getting connected with you gives me strength to solve your problems. I will not be able to sleep well till I do that,” he said. Striking a contrast to his pro-business image, Modi said banks usually did nothing against industries defaulting on loans but pestered the poor farmers for recovery.
Modi also said Madhya Pradesh, under the leadership of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, had marched so much ahead in agriculture that it had left the BIMARU tag behind. He also praised Chouhan for keeping election responsibilities aside to tour hailstorm-affected parts of the state and also sitting on a dharna to demand Central aid.
Modi termed as “kushasan” (bad governance) the UPA government’s “inaction” on the Supreme Court’s order to distribute foodgrains stored in government godowns among the poor. He criticised the government for letting the grains rot and then giving it to liquor manufacturers at cheap rates. He also criticised the Centre for not giving permission to install gates at the Sardar Sarovar project and depriving Maharashtra of “absolutely free” power worth Rs 400 crore.
State unit chief Devendra Fadnavis and many BJP nominees from Vidarbha were present on the occasion. Farm activist Kishor Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andolan too participated in the discussion.