In Modiís global agro summit, farmers treated as state guests
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For the 4,500 farmers who participated in it, the Vibrant Gujarat Agriculture Summit 2013 organised on September 9-10 was nothing short of a getaway. The farmers, from 29 states and two Union Territories across the country, were hosted as state guests for three days. Lodged in two-three star hotels for what the Narendra Modi government claimed was the first such event in the country, the farmers couldn't have hoped for a better paid-for retreat.
For 38-year-old Mrinal Das, a farmer from Kurivill village in Barpeta district of Assam, a trip to Gandhinagar to attend the summit turned into a journey of his lifetime. "I had never stepped outside my district. In fact, I boarded a train for the first time to come here. I got Rs 51,000 cash reward for my progressive work and attended international seminars. For the first time in my life, I stayed in an air-conditioned hotel room,'' said Das, who boarded the train to Howrah on Wednesday, along with eight other farmers from Assam. "We stayed in a two-star hotel in Gandhinagar. The facilities were very good'', said Shadul Islam, another farmer from Assam.
A group of 28 farmers from Chhattisgarh stayed at a three-star hotel. The state government had engaged both private and GSRTC buses to transport farmers from their respective hotels in Ahmedabad to Gandhinagar. In Shadul and Das, Modi has found new ambassadors. "Hum to unme doob gaye. Bahut achcha kaam karte hain (We are quite impressed by him/Modi. He is doing very good work),'' said Shadul.
"Our entire expense, including to-and-fro train tickets, boarding and lodging, and local conveyance were not borne by us. We did not have to spend a single penny. We were told that the Gujarat government was funding our trip," said Ravindra Thakur, a farmer from Semalyachau village near Indore in Madhya Pradesh (MP), who was put up at a newly-built Formula One hotel for the two-day event.
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