Worried that the ‘antifarmer’ perception created over issues such as the land acquisition bill and industrial policy would stick to the party’s image, the BJP leadership on Sunday went all out to emphasise the party’s pro-farmer and pro-poor stance at the concluding session of BJP's Maharashtra state convention.
Senior leader and union minister Nitin Gadkari, who presented an overview of the party’s economic development model, stressed that empowering farmers, developing rural areas and the underprivileged was at the core of BJP’s vision.
He recounted the Centre’s policy decisions including opening bank accounts for 15 crore people, direct cash transfers and pension schemes as examples of his government’s commitment. Gadkari also defended the land acquisition bill, which he said was a landmark legislation that would only help farmers.
“There is a malicious campaign by the opposition to defame this bill, but it’s 80% the same legislation they had drafted. We issued the ordinance on the last day to ensure it did not lapse and that farmers get four times the compensation for their land,” said Gadkari.
He said that the consent clause had been dropped only for public interest projects, including affordable housing, rural infrastructure, dams and the industrial corridor. “How will farmers get value for their produce unless there is greater access to water and infrastructure? And how can you get more water or better roads if consent is not given to acquire land required for such projects?” he said.
He launched an attack on the Congress pointing out that those who had auctioned off coal mines to big industries were accusing the BJP of being a ‘Suit Boot Sarkar’.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in his address asked party cadre not to get defensive in the face of criticism. “The Congress-NCP government has left the farmers of the state with no power, no water and no jobs. They are responsible for the cycle of suicides. We have inherited a grim situation, but we will not rest until Maharashtra becomes a state of farmers once again,” he said.
Fadnavis also said that after coming to power, the BJP should stay away from the ‘power dalal/ fixer’ culture of the Congress government and use power for public good.