The government Monday pushed Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu into damage control after Rahul Gandhi’s attack over the agrarian situation. With Rahul’s speech having encouraged the outnumbered opposition into launching an offensive, Naidu intervened aggressively.
Naidu said the plight of farmers a legacy inherited from the “50 years of Congress rule” and the Congress had no moral right to question the government’s ordinances. “We have issued hardly 10 ordinances. You have issued 462 ordinances. Let us not try to score political points. Facts are there before the people. People are wise enough and they will understand and decide. Sau chuhe kha kar billi Haj ko chali,” Naidu said. “Rahul babu, you were in power for 50 years and we have been in power only 9, 10 months.”
Rahul had “advised” the PM to go to farmers and ask them about their damaged crops. Naidu said the PM had directed all ministers to go to the affected states and assess the situation. “You only see one person. The fact is, the PM had called the home minister, the rural development minister, the agriculture minister, myself and others to go to states, which we did,” he said. When the opposition asked, “Where was our PM then?” Naidu replied, “Your PM lost, so he is sitting at home.”
Referring once again to the legacy of the previous government, Naidu said, “Today, a politician wants his son to be in politics; an industrialist wants his son to be in industry; a businessman wants his son to be a businessman; a doctor wants his son to be in medicine; and an actor wants his son to be an actor… But today no farmer wants his son to be in agriculture. The reason is that agriculture, because of a variety of reasons, has become non-remunerative. That is why there is large-scale migration,” he said.
Had farmers been happy with the Congress, Naidu said, they would not have rejected that government. “The people have decided who represents the kisan,” he said.
Naidu said the ordinance on land acquisition was re-promulgated after much deliberation, as it listed out steps taken to provide succour to farmers whose crops have been hit by recent hailstorms and unseasonal rains. “Our commitment is to the farmers, poor people and rural people… Have patience for five years”.
On compensation, Naidu said, “Virasat mein hume kya mila (what we have inherited) too has to be taken into account.” He said the government would “seriously consider” the recommendations of the Swaminathan Panel on agriculture and stressed the need to increase agriculture output and spend more on R&D.
Naidu said that earlier, only if 50 per cent crops were damaged was it considered for compensation. “I am happy, sir, this government has reduced it to 33 per cent. It is a very positive step,” he said. “Secondly, earlier Rs 1,20,000 compensation used to be given to the family of the deceased. We have enhanced the amount to Rs 4,00,000. Sir, whether it is the loss of cattle, milch animal, cattle shed, crop, boat of the fishermen or rural artisan implement, for all these things the compensation has been adequately raised to 50 per cent, 60 per cent, 70 per cent and 80 per cent.”