RaGa alleges Modi-Naveen deal hit Odisha farmers; BJD, BJP retaliate

Bhubaneswar: Alleging that a compromise was struck between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over chit fund scam, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today said that it had hit the farmers hard, some of whom committed suicide.

“As you know there is chit fund scam in the state. A compromise was struck and friendship grew between Modiji and Naveenji,” the Congress vice-president said after launching “Save Farmer March” at Debahal in Odisha’s Bargarh district.

“Farmers are committing suicide in the state due to crop loss, lack of irrigation, fertiliser and minimum support price on their produces,” said Gandhi, who also met family members of one Sanand Kathar who had committed suicide recently due to abject poverty.

As the NDA government stopped most of the farmer welfare schemes launched by the previous Congress-led UPA government, Gandhi said that peasants’ sufferings were compounded by lack of irrigation, fertiliser and minimum support price for crops.

“During UPA rule, the state government got huge funds from the Centre but money did not reach farmers in the shape of irrigation or bonus on paddy,” he pointed out, saying the state government in Odisha had not been able to provide required assistance to the farmers.

Though Gandhi refrained from directly attacking Naveen Patnaik as he did in the case of Narendra Modi, the Congress leader cautioned both the Prime Minister and the chief minister about the consequences of suppressing the voice of farmers, labourers and dalits to benefit corporate houses.

Gandhi said that corporates were taking away mines and forests and failing to give the people of Odisha anything in return. He charged Modi and Naveen with keeping silent over it.

“We will take up the cause of farmers, labourers and poor. It is not easy to suppress them,” Gandhi said at one of the public meetings held during the 7.5-km padyatra.

On the reason behind Naveen-Modi friendship, Rahul mentioned about the chit fund scam being probed by CBI as per the direction of the Supreme Court. Several BJD leaders including an MP and MLA had been arrested by the central agency for alleged involvement in the scam.

On the other hand, BJP and BJP rejected the allegations made by Rahul Gandhi.

Criticising the Congress party Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan said, “Congress has no issues to raise. The party which ruled the country for more than five decades, is now questioning development of the country. In the 2014 general elections Congress has got the least number of votes which shows their position in the country.

BJD spokesperson Pratap keshari Deb said, “The UPA government cancelled the fertiliser subsidy to Odisha. Besides it has too failed to implement the farmers’ policies which got a reflection in the last election. On contrary to this, the BJD government in Odisha has been able to increase agricultural output.”