Farmer leaders have rejected Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme which assures transfer of Rs 6000 per year to the bank accounts of about 12 crore farmers, calling it a “useless” effort to address the farm crisis “prevailing” across the country.
This came after over forty farmers unions held a two-day marathon meeting here under the aegis of the All India Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movement to discuss the farmers’ problems.
At the meeting which concluded here on Thursday, they decided to make the farm crisis a major issue for the Lok Sabha elections, expressing dissatisfaction with the farm sector policies and decisions taken during the five-year regime of the Modi government.
“All the announcements that Modi ji has made for the welfare of the farmers is nothing but a poll gimmick in view of the losses that his party suffered in the three State Assembly polls recently,” Vijay Jawandia, a farmers leader from Maharashtra, said while addressing a joint conference.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme from Lucknow on February 24 with a proposed budgetary outlay of Rs 75000 crore up to 2020.
Opposition parties say that the Modi government brought the scheme after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered defeat in the State Assembly polls in Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where farm crisis was one of the big issues.
The Centre has reportedly transferred Rs 5,215 crore to over 2.6 crore small and marginal farmers under the scheme so far.
“The Government should stop this scheme. It is of no use for farmers. Farmers never wanted it. What all the farmers want is a fair price for their produce which has not been guaranteed by the government,” Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Yudhveer Singh said while replying to questions on the scheme from media.
At the meeting, the farmers’ unions “unanimously” rejected the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement which India is currently negotiating with 16 countries including China, Australia, and ten ASEAN countries, Singh told reporters.
“This is the most dangerous move. This will completely finish the farming community in India as it will remove tariffs on 92% of traded commodities and open the floodgates to cheap imports,” farmer leader from Punjab Ajmer Singh Lakhwal said.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader Chamarasa Mali Patil said the farmers from Northern and Southern India have joined hands “to build pressure” on the new government to be formed after the Lok Sabha to ensure that the RCEP agreement is not signed.
The farmers’ unions also released a list of 18 demands including unconditional waiver of loans, minimum support price (MSP) 1.5 times of the production cost and a minimum assured income for farmers ranging from Rs 5000 to Rs 10,000 per month, appealing all the political parties to incorporate their demands in their poll manifesto.