Nagpur, Dec 29 (IANS) A top Maharashtra agrarian expert on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi “to appoint experts and knowledgeable persons” to handle the proposed bail-out package for farmers being considered by the NDA government.
“The team drafting the proposed farm relief initiative — Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah, or the babus in Niti Aayog — does not have any knowledge of the existing rural distress,” said Vasantrao Naik Swavalamban Mission Chairman Kishore Tiwari.
In a sharp statement, while welcoming the government’s proposal for a new package to bring relief to the agrarian sector before the end of the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, Tiwari said Modi should follow the steps of Telangana and Jharkhand governments in this regard.
He said the voters in the five states which the BJP lost have given a clear “wake-up call” and expressed their anger over the anti-farmer policies of the NDA vis-a-vis the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) headed by K. Chandrashekar Rao, the Chief Minister of Telangana.
“The Prime Minister should immediately appoint a ‘knowledgeable’ agriculture minister before implementing the upcoming new farmers bail-out package, in consultation with grassroots activists working among farmers,” Tiwari said.
He also sought direct cash subsidy of Rs 5,000/acre in crop season to all farmers in rain-fed areas besides fulfilling Modi’s own 2014 poll-promises like unconditional loan waiver, protected irrigation facility, subsidised foodgrains, free healthcare, monthly pension to aged farmers.
“All crop loans must be given a one-time blanket waiver, including from micro-finance companies and private money-lenders, so farmers can make a fresh start on a clean slat and fresh crop loans upto 50 per cent of the land prices must be extended to the farmers,” Tiwari urged.
The VNSSM chief sought universal reforms in the existing crop insurance schemes which should be implemented at the village level and damage assessments as conducted by the local Gram Sabha to benefit the genuinely distressed sections of farmers.
Incidentally, Tiwari, who enjoys a Ministerial status in Maharashtra, kicked up a major controversy earlier this month when he demanded that the BJP should get rid of both Modi and Shah if it wanted to win the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
He also followed up with a letter to the RSS top brass demanding that they should replace Modi with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari as the face of the party going to the crucial elections early 2019, though Shah ruled out any such possibility last week in Mumbai.