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BJP farmer outreach in Bengal

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on January 09, 2021

BJP National President JP Nadda waves to his supporters during a roadshow, in Bardhaman, West Bengal.   -  PTI

A month after his convoy was attacked here in the state, BJP President JP Nadda reached out to farmers of West Bengal as he took on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, for failing to implement central schemes and for delaying implementation of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana.

The BJP chief launched his party’s outreach program Ek Muththi Chawal (a fistful of rice) that aimed at door-to-door collection of rice and briefing farmers about the benefits of the new farm laws at Purba Bardhaman district, also known as Bengal’s rice bowl.

“The new farm laws will allow farmers access to national markets. This aids them in getting better prices for their produce,” he said, while addressing farmers.

The outreach move is seen as an attempt to blunt the Opposition’s attack on the BJP for bringing in new farm laws; and to make-up for criticism over the repeated impasse in the talks between farmer unions and Centre.

The Trinamool Congress has been at the forefront of criticising these new farm laws.

According to Nadda, outreach programs will be carried out across 40,000 villages in Bengal with farmers being apprised of farm laws and how they can secure better price for their produce.

Budget for farmer benefits has seen a six-fold jump and MSPs have been increased “substantially” since the Narendra Modi-led government came to power, he added.

War over Central schemes

“Mamataji (Banerjee) is now asking for implementation of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme here. But it is too late. The ground beneath her feet is shifting; farmer support is weaning (for her). She has realised this,” Nadda said during a rally.

The implementation of PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana - that allows each farmer a ₹6,000 cash benefit annually- had been a flash point between the BJP and the Trinamool. The scheme was blocked by the ruling party, who wanted the money to be transferred to the state first and not as direct benefit transfer.

Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has singled out the Trinamool for failing to implement “pro-farmer” schemes for petty political reasons.

Ultimately after the BJP started using it as a poll plank, ahead of the all important 2021 elections due here, Banerjee acceded and allowed implementation of the scheme in January.

At least 70 lakh farmers have allegedly been denied their dues. Over 21 lakh of these farmers have self-registered on the ‘Farmers Corner’ on the PM-KISAN portal, so far. The state is yet to announce a nodal officer or verify the data to enable direct transfer of benefits.

The West Bengal Chief Minister recently claimed she has sought details of these farmers for verification.

On January 7, the Union Agriculture Minister wrote to Mamata Banerjee reiterating that farmers here can get the money “with the help of the state government”. The Centre made it clear that it will send the money to the farmers' account after verifying the list of applicant names.

“Bengal’s farmers are amongst the poorest in the country. All this will change as BJP comes to power here. There is a tsunami of support and people will throw out Banerjee’s government,” Nadda said adding that the Trinamool government here was “busy renaming Central schemes as its own”.

Sharp retort

The Trinamool issued a sharp retort. Party spokesperson and MP, Saugata Roy said, “outsiders had descended on Bengal to spread lies.”

“Why don’t they reach out to the agitating farmers in Delhi? Why are all talks with farmer unions ending in an impasse? Let them handle that first,” he said.

Published on January 09, 2021

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