Senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda today questioned the Haryana government's decision to appoint 17,000 "Kisan Mitras" to assist peasants in financial management and agricultural practices, and said the BJP government should first become a friend of farmers.
"What is the benefit of appointing a Kisan Mitra if the government itself has become anti-farmer? The government should reconsider its anti-farmer policies instead of coining new phrases," Mr Hooda said.
"All ministers, officers and government employees should first act like friends of farmers. But the government seems to have failed to do so and this is the reason why they are appointing Kisan Mitras. Looking at the intention and policy of the government, it seems that farmers will not get any benefit from this," he said.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had on Wednesday announced the "Kisan Mitra Club" scheme would be implemented in the state under which 17,000 "Kisan Mitras" for 17 lakh farmers would be appointed.
The "Kisan Mitras" would be government officers, progressive farmers and volunteers and they would assist the farmers in better financial management and also adopting latest agriculture practices for increasing agricultural production.
Mr Hooda, who is the leader of the opposition in the state assembly, said the farmers today need relief and encouragement from the government.
"If the government wants to be a friend of the farmers, then they should implement the Swaminathan Commission report on farmers, give a fair price for crops, reduce input cost of agriculture, remove taxes on farming equipment. The government should reduce the price of diesel which is increasing daily and above all, steps should be taken towards a loan waiver," Mr Hooda said, adding these are the demands of the farmers.
Instead of giving relief and encouragement to the farmer, the government is constantly taking steps to make agricultural inputs expensive, stopping the purchase of crops and imposing restrictions on farmers, he said in a statement.
"While they do nothing for the farmers, they are coining new words and phrases to show themselves as a supporter of farmers. Master trainers and moderators were appointed by the government earlier, but the farmers are getting no benefits from them."
"In its previous term, the BJP had also appointed some people from outside the state as 'Sushashan Sahyogis' (good governance associates), an indication that the government did not trust its own officials. But their (good governance associates'') 'sahyog' (cooperation) could not be seen anywhere in the whole system, nor was there good governance in the state," Mr Hooda quipped.
He said if the government has to appoint 'Kisan Mitras' it should appoint unemployed youths studying agriculture from Haryana Agriculture University and not appoint volunteers.
"This will also provide employment to the youth and they will also be able to contribute to the agriculture sector, based on their expertise. Instead of adjusting their supporters and favourites, the government should have a clear and transparent process for their recruitment," he said.