Facing attack over the new Land Acquisition Bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National Executive meet that the land records would be “reformed” for farmers’ benefit and attacked opposition for “spreading lies” that the government is working against the interests of the farming community.
Addressing a public meeting here, he said his government was working to empower the farmers as it realises that the nation cannot make progress till villages develop.
Contending that he had lived among the farmers, PM Narendra Modi said he could understand their plight and was working with “good intention” to address their woes.
“How did farmer’s lose their land? Where did it go?… To get a job of a peon for their children or to make them a driver, they used to be compelled to sell their land to pay bribes.. The (previous) governments compelled them to (sell land),” said the Prime Minister who is here to attend BJP’s two-day National Executive that began on Friday.
“Land records will be reformed so that farmers get back their land (which they lost). For this, we will launch a big campaign,” he said.
Targeting opposition which has mounted a campaign over Land Bill without naming anybody, Modi said, “Those spreading lies do not know how to protect interests of farmers.”
The Prime Minister’s assertion about taking care of farmers’ interests comes against the backdrop of attack by the combined opposition over the Land Acquisition Bill, a contentious issue on which he remained silent in his 55-minute address.
Making a veiled reference to the opposition campaign over Land Acquisition issue, he said efforts were being made to take “political mileage” on the “pretext” of farmers’ interests.
He said if saving the farmers’ land was so important, it was equally important to “protect” their livestock.
“Aaj desh ka pashudhan khatam ho raha hai. Aur mai hairan hun, jo log kisan ki zameen ko bachane ke naam par bade bade andolan chalane ke liye nikal pade hain, rajnetik rotiyan pakane ke liye nikal pade hain, agar zameen jana utna dukhdayak hai, utna hi agar pashudhan gaon se khatam ho jayega, toh gaon ka utna hi bura haal hoga.
“(The country’s livestock is diminishing. And I am surprised at that those people who are undertaking big campaigns for political mileage that if losing land for a farmer is painful, equally worrying is the depletion of livestock as it will have adverse impact on villages),” Modi said.
Talking about empowering farmers, he said, “Mai aasman se tapka nahi hoon (I have not come from the heavens). I have lived among villagers and poor people and have reached here… I know that India will not make progress till villages develop and till farmers make progress.”
He said “it has been realised that farmers’ plight will not end by throwing crumps at them” and that they need technology for farming, infrastructure, good roads, need irrigation, need electricity, need own house. Should people in villages not have such facilities?
Batting for the facilities for villagers on the lines of urban areas, Modi asked “Should they not benefit?” He then talked about the government’s schemes for irrigation, Soil Health Card and building of concrete roads.
“We recognise the power of our farmers and we are making efforts to empower them and ensure proper remuneration for their produce,” he said.
Taking on the Congress for saying that its policies were being “copied” by his government, the Prime Minister said some programmes may seem similar “but sometimes, more powerful than policies is the intent. We have good and firm intentions, yours was not. That is why we are marching ahead.”
He said his experience of 10 months in power demonstrated that “if intentions are right, then decisions are also right as are the results”.
He attacked the previous UPA government, saying decisions had remained pending for years.
“When I got files, I saw proposals of 2007 hanging till 2014, proposals of 2011 pending till 2014 .. I wonder what they were doing. Files were pending upto 2-7 years. Hundreds of such proposals were pending. I showed the courage to take bold decisions and the nation has got going,” he said.
Referring to the opposition attack over black money, Modi said, “People have been questioning ‘where is the black money, when will it come back, whether it will come back or not’. They spread such lies so that the truth gets suppressed. But the truth never gets suppressed and it comes to the fore at the right time.”
In this context, he said his government took the decision of setting up the SIT in its first Cabinet meeting while the previous government had been shying away from doing so for three years despite the Supreme Court telling it.
Modi talked about the steps taken by his government to deal with the problem, like seeking the help of G-20 nations and bringing of a bill to enact a law to fight against black money in the first half of the Budget session of Parliament.
“Till the budget speech (of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley), they used to mock at us over black money. When we brought the bill, those making fun of us were silenced. They realised as to what is going to happen.. I assure you, that the black money which has gone out will be brought back and also will ensure that no more black money is created,” he said.
The Prime Minister contended that there was an environment of “despair” because of scams during the previous UPA government and it looked like the country had lost track and the whole world was ignoring India.
“For a decade there was questions whether India will be saved or not. In those moments, the people of the country reposed their faith in BJP and for the first time in 30 years, a government came with full majority for the first time.
“You gave BJP a chance to serve you. I want to assure the nation that the hope and expectations, with which you gave us the chance, we will try to rise to fulfill those,” Modi said.
Talking about corruption, he said there is anger against it and “people expect me to fight. I assure you that the faith on which you voted, I will fulfill.”
He mentioned coal block scam that took place during the UPA rule and said the loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore estimated in it has proved to be less.
He said while the loss was estimated on allocation of 204 blocks, auction of 20 of them has already yielded Rs 2 lakh crore.
“Imagine how much money will come when rest of the blocks are auctioned,” Modi said.
Attacking the UPA government, he said, coal blocks were given to friends and acquaintances to fill personal treasuries.
He said when the Supreme Court order scrapping allocation of 204 coal block allocations came, the NDA government was new. “Had we not taken immediate decisions, power plants would have been shut down and there would have been electricity shortage because of their (UPA) sins,” he said, adding “The issue is about intention and we going ahead with good intention”.
He also talked about 2G spectrum scam while attacking the previous Congress-led government.
The Prime Minister said he has a dream about ‘Digital India‘. “We want to move towards ‘mobile governance’ by which good governance will come naturally and there will be transparent governance and accountability. This is our effort to bring about next generation revolution. This will increase opportunities for jobs and entrepreneurship.”
Modi also accused the previous Congress-ruled governments of weakening federalism by having a policy that states should keep asking for funds from the Centre.
“We changed this thinking. We consider states as partners and work shoulder to shoulder irrespective of which party is in power. We consider all states as equal… We have followed cooperative federalism in letter and spirit,” he said.
Talking about the increased share to states from the central funds under 14th Finance Commission, he said, “We want states to be strong, so that the nation progresses…We want to trust states. We want states to use money for development, for infrastructure. That is why we have emptied the centre’s coffers…. Anyway for whom should we keep treasuries filled? We don’t have to take anything from it.”
He then talked about four colours of the National Flag and said Green is for 2nd green revolution, White for milk revolution and protection of livestock, Saffron for energy revolution and Blue for blue revolution to ensure exploitation of rich marine resources for the benefit of coastal states.
“We have to take the country to new heights,” he said and observed that world rating agencies are saying that India is the fastest developing nation,” he said.
“Earlier, economic experts used to say that BRICS grouping (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will fail because of ‘I’ (India) is a liability. There was an effort to remove ‘I’ but today ‘I’ is the strongest,” he said, adding “in 10 months, the world is recognising the power of India.”