Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday released over Rs 18,000 crore to more than nine crore farmer families under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) as he addressed some of the criticisms lobbed at his government’s introduction of new farm reform laws.
With the push of a button, Modi enabled the transfer of money – Rs 2,000 to each family - at an event which the ruling BJP has turned into a mega exercise to reach out to farmers by having its leaders interact with the farming community at more than 19,000 venues across the country and also listen to the prime minister’s address.
Using the stage to target the opposition for supporting the farmer protests, the PM said lies are being spread that the land of farmers will be snatched away.
“Some people are spreading myth and lies that land will be taken away if farmers enter into contract farming," PM Modi said, alluding to the opposition’s attack that farmers won’t benefit from the three new farm laws.
He particularly targeted the Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal, where elections are due next year, for not accepting funds under the PM-Kisan scheme. “The farmers of Bengal have been deprived of the benefits of the Centre’s schemes. Bengal is the only state which is not allowing benefits of the schemes to reach the farmers,” he said.
Modi released the instalment on the birth anniversary of former prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which is every year celebrated as ‘Good Governance Day’ by the ruling party. Under the PM-KISAN scheme, a financial benefit of Rs 6,000 per year is provided to small and marginal farmers, payable in three equal instalments of Rs 2,000 each. The fund is transferred directly to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
In the video conference, PM Modi spoke to some farmers selected for the event from several states, who narrated the problems they faced and the innovations they made with the help of government grants.
The programme comes amid protests by various farmer unions against three farm laws recently enacted by the Modi government. The government has insisted that these reforms are in the interest of farmers.