With just a few days left for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s February 18 Sehore visit, debate over his felicitation by farmers in the backdrop of the Central government’s embarrassment over land acquisition amendment bill has become stronger. Some BJP leaders have also suggested that the programme has been orchestrated to highlight the PM’s image as a “pro-farmer leader” in the country.
Modi will be felicitated by farmers at Sherpur in Sehore district during a ‘Kisan sammelan.’ The event is a part of similar congregations planned across several states. In February, such congregations would be held in Odisha and Karnataka.
While the BJP claimed that the farmers’ would felicitate the PM for launching a “revolutionary” crop insurance scheme, a section of party leaders admitted, not wishing to be quoted, that the farmers’ congregations -- the first being held in Madhya Pradesh -- were being organised to negate the impression created by the Opposition that the PM and his government at the Centre were pro-rich and anti-poor.
Congress leaders have, on the other hand, asked why the PM was being felicitated. “Is it for the anti-farmer land acquisition bill or farmers committing suicide across the country?” asked All India Mahila Congress president, Shobha Oza.
“What could be more ironical than the fact that farmers were forced to cut unripe crop to facilitate the PM’s meeting at Sherpur,” the leader said.
Congress MLA from Ichhawar constituency in Sehore district, Shailendra Patel, said the BJP leaders in the state have claimed that the farmers wanted to felicitate the PM for his pro-farmer initiatives, including the new crop insurance scheme. “But the fact remaines that the farmers or for that matter any ordinary citizen is not aware of the crop insurance scheme provisions…The PM was expected to announce the new crop insurance scheme at the farmers’ convention at Sehore,” he said.
Patel asked when people were not aware of the scheme, why they would come forward on their own to felicitate the PM. It would take at least two years’ time for any person to draw benefit from any such scheme, hence the BJP’s claim is a farce, he alleged.
State BJP vice-president Vijesh Lunawat, however, said the Congress leaders’ statement stemmed from their lack of understanding on the crop insurance scheme.
“It would take care of farmers against several problems they faced -- whether it was flood, drought or any other natural calamity. It would give protection to the farmers…and what the Congress governments at the Centre could never provide to the farming community.”