Prime Minister Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday exchanged barbs over a central scheme under which farmers are entitled to a yearly grant of Rs 6,000. A day after the political fight, NDTV met with some Bengal farmers to know their views on the scheme, called Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi or PM-Kisan.
In North 24 Parganas' Aamdanga, 50 kilometres from Kolkata, 30-year-old marginal farmer Miraj Biswas said that money is always welcome but a political slugfest is the last thing on his mind, especially when he remains preoccupied with providing sustenance to his family of four from his meagre landholding of two bighas.
He grows vegetables on his land and the more pressing need for him is to sell his cauliflower crop for over Rs 3 per piece. The vegetable sells for Rs 10 per piece in neighbouring Barasat but the current going rate at a local crop market doesn't even recover the input cost.
"I think anyone can do politics. Let them do it. But the farmers must benefit. This cauliflower is sold for Rs 3 per piece (at the market), I should get Rs 7-8 a piece but I don't get the right price," he said.
"So everyone should do politics but ultimately the farmer should benefit. This is all electoral politics. They spar with each other but no one listens to farmers. The farmer does not benefit; the persons who benefit are political people," he added.
Kanhai Bera, a 60-year-old marginal farmer, says he is a Mamata Banerjee supporter but wants both the state and central governments to help farmers.
"If I get PM-Kisan money, it will be certainly helpful, but politics is of no use. One person says 'I am giving', the other says 'I am giving' - it is just bickering. What benefit does farmers get out of it?" he said.
Mamata Banerjee's ideology had "destroyed" Bengal, PM Modi said on Friday, accusing the Chief Minister of "doing politics" by blocking the scheme.
"The public is watching those doing selfish politics very closely. The parties that do not speak on the benefit of farmers in West Bengal are engaged in harassing the citizens of Delhi here in the name of the farmers and are ruining the economy of the country," he said.
The Bengal Chief Minister hit back, calling the allegations malicious propaganda for political gains. She accused the centre of deliberate red tape and pointed out that the Bengal government had already been providing Rs 5,000 a year each to small farmers under a state government scheme.