What did Sharad Pawar do for farmers, asks PM Modi

Ahmednagar (Maharashtra): Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a broadside against Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad, asking “what did he do for farmers when he was the Union Agriculture Minister”, here on Thursday.

Addressing a rally of farmers at Kakadi village near the Shirdi pilgrimage town, Modi said — without taking names — that one senior leader of Maharashtra served as the Union Agriculture Minister under the then Congress government.

“Personally, I have all respect for him… But what has he done for the farmers? Senior leaders from the state have only played politics in the name of the farming community,” said Modi.

Citing figures, the PM said that in his seven years as Union Agriculture Minister, Pawar procured foodgrains from farmers across the country by giving a minimum support price of Rs 3.50 lakh crore.

On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has given Rs 13.50 lakh crore to the farmers as MSP in seven years, said Modi, even as breakaway NCP (AP) leader and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar looked on, in the presence of Governor Ramesh Bais, Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde.

Modi said that before 2014, many schemes that were announced for farmers were not working, and they had to fight for their compensation, were forced to depend on middle-men for their payments, and struggled many months for their dues.

However, after the BJP formed government, the scenario changed as it empowered the tillers by directly depositing over Rs 1.15 lakh crore into the farmers’ bank accounts, Modi said.

Even for the present Rabi season, the MSP has been enhanced for various crops which will benefit the peasants of Maharashtra immensely, he added.

The PM on Thursday inaugurated several developmental projects, including the left bank of the 85 km long canal network of the Nilwande Dam which will provide piped water to 182 villages and other benefits to the farmers, “who had been starving for water for decades”.

He spoke of the benefits to all farmers, including sugarcane, detailing how thousands of crores of rupees aid had been given to sugar factories, setting up of over 200,000 cooperative societies in the country, over 7,500 FPOs and other schemes for the farming community.

“Maharashtra has a lot of strength. The country will progress only if Maharashtra develops. We have launched many infrastructure and development projects, we have completed several other projects for connectivity that will benefit the farmers and the common people… We are determined to make India a developed nation,” said Modi.

He also said the Nilwande Dam, for which the state was waiting more than five decades, has finally been completed, urging that “water is a gift of god and you should not waste a single drop”.

Earlier, Modi prayed at the famed Saibaba Temple in Shirdi and recalled how he had visited the place five years ago for its centenary celebrations.

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