A new controversy erupted on Tuesday after a video clip emerged purportedly showing that a woman in Chhattisgarh was forced to make false claim – that her agriculture income got doubled – during video conferencing with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The incident had happened on June 20 in Kanharpuri village of Kanker district, but it sparked a heated debate today when a Hindi TV channel did a reality check and visited the village, where she clearly refuted the claim that her income has doubled.
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There were at least 17 beneficiaries sitting together when PM Modi was interacting through a video conference, where a lady named Chandramani Kaushik was seen claiming that her income got doubled. Speaking to the news channel later, she said she had been forced by officials to make the claim.
Speaking to Newsclick, Kanharpuri's sarpanch (chief) Parsuram Bhoyar, who is a farmer himself, said, “It was totally false that anyone's income got double from agriculture. In fact, the news channel had talked to at least 7-8 people about doubling of their income, but all of them said no to the reporter and this is the reality.”
When asked about the condition of the farmers in the village, Parsuram, who have three-acre land, claimed that at a distance of 8 km from his village, there is a river, where not a single drop of water is flowing, and it has caused a draught-like situation. He emphasised that the claim by the PM that farmers' incomes will be doubled by 2022 is unrealistic.
He further added that he was not invited for the video conference with the PM and he came to know about this through WhatsApp. A team of a few officials from Delhi had visited his village to train Chandramani before her interaction with Modi, and had asked her that you have to tell PM that your income has increased twofold, Parsuram told Newsclick.
When Newsclick approached Chandramani, she first refused to speak, but later she said that media is manipulating her statement. She further added that she cultivates rice, vegetables, lentils, custard apple etc., but none of these have yielded good profits, expect for custard apple.
She said, " I didn't claim anywhere that paddy cultivation has increased my income, but I told the prime minister that earlier I used to earn Rs 50 from 'sitafal' (produce), but after receiving training, extraction of pulp (from custard apple) has led to doubling of my income. I spoke about pulp only."
According to Chandramani, she used earn Rs 50-60 per 25 kgs per day earlier, but when she got associated with Krishi ATMA (Agriculture Technology Management Agency) scheme, the income jumped to a profit of Rs 700. She, however, didn't inform Modi that this income of Rs 700 per day is not just for her. It is divided among 12 people, bringing her share to Rs 58. This amount does not indicate any significant increase in her income.
Chandramani was taught by the officials to say this to Modi, but she didn't know that her calculation will land her in trouble, claimed a villager.