Updated: September 15, 2021 1:13:55 am
WITH JUST months to go for the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh — where farmers, mainly from the Jat community, have been protesting against the farm laws — Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached out to the community on Tuesday, saying that the Centre is working to empower small farmers.
Addressing a function after laying the foundation stone of a state university named after “Jat king” and freedom fighter Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh in Aligarh, Modi said the Centre had paid Rs 1 lakh crore directly to small farmers during the pandemic, of which over Rs 25,000 crore went to farmers in Uttar Pradesh.
“Eight out of 10 farmers in India are small farmers who have a small plot of land measuring less than two hectares. That’s why it is the central government’s continuous effort to empower the small farmer,” he said.
In this context, Modi also invoked former Prime Minister and Jat leader Chaudhary Charan Singh, whose grandson and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Jayant Chaudhary has been playing a major role in mobilising farmers’ protests in UP. “Chaudhary Charan Singhji cared for the small farmers. It is very important for the government to stand with them like a partner,” he said.
He said his government’s policies on MSP, crop insurance, kisan credit card and pension scheme were all aimed at empowering small farmers.
Over the past few years, the UP government has worked to minimise the problems faced by sugarcane farmers and has spent around Rs 1.4 lakh crore on MSP, said Modi. “In the coming years, the sugarcane farmers in UP will open new doors of possibility as ethanol from sugarcane will be used widely as fuel,” he said.
“There is a need to save UP from anti-development forces,” said Modi. “People of UP still cannot forget how it was before 2017. There were scams, and welfare schemes for the poor were spiked by those in power, people would be scared to let their daughters step out of their homes. The criminals are all behind bars now,” he said.
The Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh State University is being set up in an area of over 92 acres in Kol tehsil of Aligarh. It will provide affiliation to 395 colleges in Aligarh division.
For years, the BJP has been demanding that the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) be renamed after Mahendra Pratap Singh, who donated land for the campus.
The state government’s decision to set up a university named after the Jat leader is being seen as part of the ruling BJP’s bid to win over the community ahead of the Assembly polls early next year.
A section of Jats, who form a major share of the population in western Uttar Pradesh, is seen to be aggrieved with the BJP over the new farm laws.
“It is the country’s misfortune that the subsequent generations were not acquainted with the sacrifices made by patriots such as Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh, Chotu Ram and others, whose contributions gave direction to the freedom struggle. So many generations remained deprived of learning about their deeds,” Modi said.
“The 21st century India is correcting those mistakes of the 20th century,” he said, adding that the country was learning about them in the 75th year of Independence.
Modi said former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, who died recently, would have been happy to know that a university named after Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh was coming up in Aligarh.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said: “UP has become a destination for investors. Around 1.61 crore people have got jobs and investments have totalled over Rs 3 lakh crore.” Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma and Governor Anandiben Patel were also present.
Later, Modi also reviewed the progress of the Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor. Addressing a gathering after visiting an exhibition on the Aligarh node of the corridor, Modi said Uttar Pradesh was benefiting from the “double-engine” government, as the BJP was ruling both at the Centre and in the state.
“The locks of Aligarh used to safeguard homes and shops. In the 21st century, my Aligarh will work to safeguard the borders of India. Till now, people depended on Aligarh for the safety of their homes and offices, because when a lock was from Aligarh, people would feel assured,” he said, referring to the local lock-making industry.
New industrial units of small arms, armament, drone, aerospace, metal components, anti-drone system and defence packaging products are coming up, Modi said, adding that this would give a new identity to Aligarh and its surrounding areas.
He said the country has launched a campaign to encourage domestic production of defence equipment and platforms like fighter aircraft, drones and warships. “India is emerging from the image of being a big defence importer… India is now moving towards a new identity as an important defence exporter of the world. Uttar Pradesh is going to be a big centre of India’s changing identity,” he said.
“The UP defence corridor is coming up with big investment and employment opportunities. Today, Uttar Pradesh is becoming an attractive place for investors from the state and the world… This is possible when there is a proper atmosphere for investment and necessary facilities are made available. Today, UP has become an example of double benefits of a double-engine government,” he said.
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