Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched a strong attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over money transfer to farmers from the Centre. The PM transferred an instalment of Rs 2,000 each to over nine crore farmers on Friday. In a blistering speech, PM Modi slammed CM Banerjee saying that her government has destroyed the state. He added that she has denied over 70 lakh farmers in West Bengal money transfer from the central government due to political reasons.

Following this, CM Banerjee launched a blistering attack on the PM. She said, “While he publicly claimed his intention to help farmers of WB through his PM Kisan Yojana and alleges non-cooperation of the state government, the fact is that he is trying to mislead the people with half-truth and distorted facts. Let me set the record straight – we have always been ready to cooperate in the interest of the farmers.”

“I personally have written two letters and have even spoken to the concerned Minister two days ago but they are refusing to cooperate and are instead indulging in malicious propaganda for political gains. When we are implementing so many schemes with Central Government, the question of not cooperating on a scheme that is benefitting farmers seems absurd. The fact is that this BJP-led Central Government is used to indulging in politicking even at the cost of violating the established practices and norms regarding the implementation of Central Schemes by State Governments,” she added.

“For all the posturing of the Central Government, the fact is that the Modi Government has done nothing to help the state of West Bengal. They are yet to release even a portion of the Rs. 85,000 crores of outstanding dues that includes unpaid GST dues of Rs. 8,000 crores. If he genuinely wants to help the state, he must release at least a part of these funds so that we are in a better position to address our needs,” she added.

The CM also said, “Let me reiterate, that in the interest of the people of Bengal, we will do everything that is needed on our part, even if it means supporting schemes of Central Government that are purely meant to further their political agenda, are at odds with the spirit of federalism, and are definitely not guided by their desire to help the people at large; so long it ensures even incremental benefit for the people of Bengal.”

Earlier, PM Modi also squarely blamed those with political agenda for the deadlock in the Centre’s talks with protesting farmers and asserted that his government is willing to hold dialogues with all, including those staunchly opposed to it, as long as talks are based on farm issues, facts and logic.

PM Modi said when the agitation began farmers had some genuine demands like guaranteed minimum support price but people with political motives then took over and began making unrelated demands like the release of those accused of violence and making highways toll-free.

While putting up a strong defence of the three farm laws, enacted in September, he said farmers in overwhelming numbers across the country have welcomed the three Acts and listed their benefits as well during his interaction. His government is approaching dialogues with protesting farmers with an open heart, Modi said, claiming that the parties rejected by the electorate are pushing their political agenda by misleading farmers and using their shoulders to fire at the government as they lack any logical argument against these laws.

Defeated in elections, these parties are now indulging in event management for selfies and are appearing on television for publicity, he said. “Our decision can be tested on logic and facts. If there is any shortcomings, it should be highlighted. It is a democracy. We are not claiming that God has given us all knowledge,” he added.

Farm reforms became necessary because poor farmers, who are over 80 per cent, were getting poorer during rules of earlier governments, he said. He cited the BJP’s victory in panchayat elections in several states, in which farmers were the main voters and including in areas surrounding protest sites, to argue that these reforms have received support from cultivators. ? Though the government is making humble efforts to resume the dialogue, some are not letting talks happen due to political reasons and are misleading the farmers, Modi said. ? 
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh, are camping on various Delhi borders for almost a month to protest against the three farm laws. At least five rounds of formal talks have failed to break the deadlock with the farmer groups refusing to accept anything less than the complete repeal of the laws.

While the government has projected these laws as major reforms for benefit of farmers, protesting unions have been saying that these legislations would leave them at the mercy of corporates by weakening the MSP and mandi systems. The government has maintained that such apprehensions were unfounded as the MSP and mandi systems are not just continuing but also being expanded and strengthened further. ? Reacting to Modi’s speech, several protesting union leaders said it appeared aimed at creating a divide among farmers by misleading them and urged for a concrete action plan to provide a legal guarantee on MSP and on other demands.

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