In a bid to counter the opposition’s “pro-rich” charge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address farmers across four states this month to popularize his government’s initiatives for the distressed sector.
Modi will address gatherings in Madhya Pradesh on February 18, Odisha on February 21, Karnataka on February 27 and Uttar Pradesh on February 28.
The outreach rallies comes close on the heels of reports of suicide by farmers and fears that the crisis of the farm sector may further deepen in the next fiscal on account of several reasons including the falling global commodity prices. The opposition has attacked the NDA blaming it for the 160-odd suicides that had taken place during the last Kharif season. In Odisha alone, over 100 farmers committed suicide in the last year, though the Naveen Patnaik government said the reasons behind these numbers varied from case to case.
The Modi-led government has also been targeted for being ‘pro-rich’, a tag that the Prime Minister has been trying to shed at many platforms.
At an event in Delhi last week, the Prime Minister batted for targeted subsidies and reforms that transform the lives of the poor.
This sentiment is likely to be reflected in the budget that his government will present this month, despite pressure from different quarters to cut spending to contain the fiscal deficit.
Re-iterating the government’s stance, a BJP functionary said the government also did not get credit for several “path breaking” initiatives launched in recent months including the new irrigation scheme and the soil health card that will be distributed to about 5 crore farmers by the end of March.
“Above all, the government recently approved a new crop insurance scheme that will provide for compensation in case of crop loss on account of natural calamities. This scheme envisages relief to farmer at a nominal premium. We need to promote all such efforts of the Modi government,” the party functionary said.
In a meeting on Monday, Modi also requested office bearers of different Morchas of the BJP to popularize the pro-poor initiatives of the government. “Discussed government’s development agenda and how we are ensuring that the fruits of progress reach the poor across India,” the Prime Minister tweeted after the meeting Sunday evening.