Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday sought to underline his government’s commitment to the farmers, saying it has strived to ensure their prosperity and dignity without any dependence on middlemen. In a statement that comes amid the sustained protests by farmers outside Delhi for nearly four months opposing the new Central farm laws, he said the NDA also wanted to bring a paradigm shift in the agricultural sector.

For years, small businessmen and small farmers were ignored but the “NDA government has given topmost priority to these two sections,” he said in his address at a public meeting in this western town of poll-bound Tamil Nadu. “It has been our honour to work for the small farmer of India. In the past seven years our efforts for small farmers are aimed at giving them a life of prosperity and dignity,” he said.

With the launch of initiatives, including soil health cards, the government wanted to bring a paradigm shift in the agriculture sector, he said. Taking a swipe at the DMK-Congress combine in Tamil Nadu, PM Modi said their “meetings are like corruption hackathons” where “their leaders sit and discuss on how to loot.” The NDA’s governance was one with compassion while the opposition was “misgovernance with corruption,” he alleged.

PM Modi dedicated to the nation key projects in Tamil Nadu, including the 2×500 mw Neyveli new thermal power plant, and laid the foundation stone for important initiatives in the state. Among the initiatives were those in the shipping sector, where the Centre has identified Rs 6 lakh worth projects to be implemented under the Sagarmala scheme between 2015 and 2035 in the country, he said.

Reciting from the Tamil classic Tirukkural, the second time on Thursday after doing the same at a government function in Puducherry earlier, he hailed farmers, even as he laid the foundation stone for an extension, renovation and modernisation of the Lower Bhavani Project System. It will irrigate over two lakh acres of land and benefit the ryots in Tirupur, Erode and Karur districts in the state, he said.

Referring to the particular couplet from Tirukkural, PM Modi said, “the farmers are the ones who truly live and all others live because of them, worshipping them.” The Prime Minister inaugurated the widening of the Korampallam surplus course beige and rail overbridge (ROB) including widening of the road at VOC Port in Tuticorin, saying it will greatly benefit the port.

“The Government of India’s commitment to port-related development can be seen through the Sagarmala scheme. About 575 projects at a total cost of Rs six lakh crore have been identified for implementation during the 2015-2035 period,” he said at a government event after inaugurating various projects and laying the foundation stone for others.

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