Lucknow, January 17
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav on Monday made several promises to the farmers of Uttar Pradesh including MSP for every crop, free irrigation facilities, payment of arrears to cane-growers in 15 days, interest-free loans, and insurance and pension.
Yadav also said that cases lodged against farmers during their agitation against the now-repealed farm laws would be withdrawn, and the families of farmers who died during the protest would be given Rs 25 lakh each.
Speaking to the media here, the SP supremo said all these promises would be part of the party's election manifesto for the assembly elections in the state.
He said a special 'Farmers Revolving Fund' would be created, if needed, to ensure the payment of arrears to sugarcane farmers in 15 days.
Before announcing the blueprint, the SP chief took an "Anna Sankalp" (food commitment) to express his firm resolve for the welfare of the farmers in the state.
He said the party has already vowed to provide 300 units of electricity to everybody.
The Samajwadi Party, which has entered into an alliance with the Rashtriya Lok Ddal, is trying to cash in on the recent farmers' agitation.
The western Uttar Pradesh, from where many farmers had participated in the stir against the agri-marketing laws on Delhi borders, is scheduled to vote in the first phase of voting on February 10. Rakesh Tikait, one of the more prominent faces of the year-long agitation, hails from this region, While explaining in detail his party's plan for the farmers, the SP chief did not miss an opportunity to attack the BJP, accusing it of neglecting farmers during its rule.
"The BJP in its 2017 polls manifesto had promised to double the income of the farmers. Has it been achieved?" he asked.
Referring to the Lakhimpur Kheri violence in which four farmers were knocked down by a four-wheeler in October last year, the former chief minister said the incident was even worse than the infamous Jallianwala Bagh case during British rule.
"In the Jallianwala Bagh case innocent people were killed by the Britishers by shooting them I their chest, but in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident innocent farmers returning home were crushed under the wheels of the vehicle," he said.
The SP chief also took a swipe at the BJP for "not initiating any action" against Union Minister of State for Home Ajay Mishra Teni whose son Ashish has been described by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) as the main accused of the October 3 killings. Ashish is lodged in jail in the case that raised concern across the country.
Reacting to Yadav's promises, Uttar Pradesh BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh tweeted in Hindi, "Those who used to roam around with a gun in their hand, are pretending to be the well-wishers of farmers. During their regime, our farmers used to fear going to their farms during the night." While Minimum Support Price (MSP) is at present provided on some selected crops, the SP chief promised to cover all the crops under the safety net.
The SP supremo was accompanied by Tejinder Singh Virk, who had led the farmers' protest in Lakhimpur Kheri against the visit of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya to Ajay Mishra's native place. Virk had alleged that the vehicles that ran over the protesters that day also targeted him.
Asked if Virk would be fielded by the party in the current elections, Yadav was non-committal. “He is a respected person for his party.” To another question about whether the Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikiat will get the SP nomination in the polls, Yadav mockingly replied, “If you bring him to me I will certainly consider so”.
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