Don't take the extreme step of suicide: Modi to Maharashtra farmers

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Dabhdi (Maha), March 20: BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Thursday asked farmers in Maharashtra not to resort to suicide and assured that his party was firmly behind them. "Committing suicides is not the way to fight the crisis," Modi said during a 'kisan pe charcha' (discussion on farmers) interaction with farmers at this village in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha region which has seen the maximum number of farmer suicides in the last decade.

The BJP will support the farmers in Maharashtra who were recently hit by severe hailstorms, Modi said. "Not only are farmers committing suicide, but after them, their family members are also ending their lives," Modi said.

Saying that more farmers were dying than the number of fatalities in the war, Modi said this was not a political issue but an issue of national pain. "We will have to develop a system where our hard-working farmers won't have to commit suicide," he said. When banks were nationalised, a promise was made that banks would help the poor. But now this is not the situation, he said.

Narendra Modi held Kisan Pe Charcha, during which he interacted with farmers

"Hardly five per cent of the banks' funds go to farmers. It should be made mandatory for banks to give loans to farmers. An important reason why farmers are committing suicide is that they borrow money from money-lenders," Modi said. Farmers will have to be freed from the of clutches of money-lenders, Modi said. "When big defaulters fail to repay loans, banks turn a blind eye. However, they run after farmers who fail to repay loans," Modi said.

"If we have to revive the country's economy, we will have to boost the agriculture," Modi said.

Kishore Tiwari, president of Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti, an NGO which has been documenting farmer suicides for long, pointed out to Modi that around 11,000 farmers (in Vidarbha) have ended their lives during the terms of UPA 1 and 2. A farmer asked Modi what would he do to ensure cotton and soybean growers get remunerative prices. "Cotton is grown here. But the cloth is made somewhere else. Why shouldn't the cloth and garments be produced here locally," Modi said.

"There is a big global market for readymade garments. My formula is "farm to fibre to fabric to fashion," he said. Another farmer from neighbouring Telangana region asked what he would do to boost the cold storage facilities. Alleging that the government was "irresponsible", Modi bemoaned lack of real time data about crops.

"We can use science and technology for this. The issue of food grain loss would be solved if we harness science and technology. "As a result, if there is excess food grain in some states, we can send it to a state where there is a shortage," he said.

There should be a dedicated goods train section for ferrying agro goods, he said. The Gujarat Chief Minister also blamed the Centre for delaying the approval for installation of gates at Sardar Sarovar dam. "Had the Narmada dam been bulit during Nehru's time, it would have cost Rs 7,000 crore. Now, the work is complete but only the gate installation remains. If that is done, Maharashtra will get Rs 400 crore worth electricity free per year from Gujarat," Modi said.

The BJP leader also appreciated his party colleague and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for providing relief to the hailstorm-affected areas of his state. Modi also interacted with kin of deceased farmers during the meeting.


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