Prime Minister Narendra Modi must realise the need to address the concerns of farmers through some relief package including loan waiver ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls after the defeat of the BJP in three Hindi heartland states, former prime minister HD Deve Gowda said on Tuesday.
Mr Gowda, the JD(S) supremo, also hit back at PM Modi for trying to make fun of the Karnataka government that it reached out to only a handful of farmers under the state's Rs 44,000 crore farm loan waiver scheme.
"If he (Modi) has not realised after the seeing the biggest demonstration (of farmers last year) in Maharashtra, where his party government is ruling, then people will take note of his callousness," Mr Gowda told reporters.
PM Modi is "seriously" thinking about ways to soothe farmers ahead of the 2019 general elections, he said.
"Mostly, he may announce some relief package before the Budget," Mr Gowda said, adding it would be most welcome even if the government announces loan waiver across the country.
After losing power to the Congress in the BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the recent state Assembly polls, the BJP-led NDA government is mulling various options including waiving interest rate on farm loans on those repaying it on time and free crop insurance to woo farmers ahead of the general elections.
Stating that no government has survived by neglecting farmers, Mr Gowda said, "If any political parties neglect the farming community, farmers will teach them a lesson."
More than 70 per cent of the farming community produce food for the country's 125 crore population,he said, adding, "They work in scorching sun and adverse climatic situation. If they are neglected, do you think that government is safe? Never."
Mr Gowda said the Vajpayee government had lost power in the past for ignoring the farmers' issues.
"During Vajpayee's tenure, I had brought 2,500 farmers from Karnataka to Delhi. At that time, the situation was worse as 1,000 farmers had committed suicide. At national level, more than 10,000 farmers had committed suicide," he said.
The then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had promised to do something for farmers, but his party went to elections with 'India Shining' slogans and lost power, he added.
Hitting back at PM Modi for his comment on poor implementation of farm loan waiver in Karnataka, Gowda said: "He made a sarcastic remark, making fun of the Karnataka government. Not less than 60,000 farmers have benefitted so far. About Rs 350 crore has already been paid to them electronically into their bank accounts."
All eligible farmers will be benefited under the scheme, he said, and added the JD(S)-Congress coalition government in Karnataka is implementing the loan waiver scheme in a "transparent" manner.
During an interaction with BJP's party workers from Karnataka through video conference last week, PM Modi took a swipe at the Kumaraswamy government for giving away loan waiver benefits to only a handful of farmers after announcing the Rs 44,000 crore loan waiver in July 2018.