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Advani woos farmers

A Correspondent in New Delhi | January 14, 2009 00:03 IST

Opposition leader Lal Kishanchand Advani [Images] on Tuesday blamed the Congress for the alarming livelihood insecurity among the farmers from the model of economic development it practiced.

"What can be a greater tragedy than to see that tens of thousands of distressed farmers in India have committed suicide? Has such horrible tragedy happened in any other country in the world," he asked while addressing a group of farmers gathered in New Delhi [Images] by BJP president Rajnath Singh to understand their problems.

The political leaders used to travel to villages to sit with the farmers and understand their needs but the BJP preferred to call a handful of them to Delhi for what it described a "roundtable interaction", similar to one held earlier with the business community to understand their perspective on implications of the economic recession.

Farmers are ending their lives because agriculture could not provide them sustainable livelihood, Advani underlined and pointed out how many relief packages of the UPA government clearly did not work. Farmers continue to commit suicides in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, which is a slur on the face of the Congress as it rules both the states, he said. Andhra villages are lately witnessing suicides also by the handloom weavers, he said.

He promised the assembled farmers that the NDA, if elected to office, will take "the most far-reaching policy and programmatic measures to revive Indian agriculture."

The steps he promised included massive infusion of public spending in agriculture that has dropped drastically since 1990s, measures to promote agriculture-based value-addition industries in rural areas and fast development of the rural infrastructure, including roads, power, irrigation, and storage facilities.

He said it is a matter of concern that the percentage of rural people, over 60 per cent, dependent on agriculture for their livelihood has not fallen even while agriculture's share in India's GDP (gross domestic product) is constantly falling.

The twin reality of agriculture's falling share in GDP and continued dependence of large section of population on farming is at the crux of the social and economic problems facing India, including the problem of unemployment, Advani added.

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