Friday, January 24, 2014

Aam Aadmi Party fever catches up with NRI supporter of Modi, imitates AAP for his "corporate" campaign

By Our Representative
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) virus appears to have taken over, among others, non-resident Indian lobbyists for Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the US. California-based Mahesh Patel, who introduced himself as chairman of the Indo-American Farmers’ Coalition (IAFC), who met Modi a few days back at a farmers’ event in Gujarat, wore a cap similar to the one put up by AAP all over India while addressing Gujarat mediapersons at Hotel Harriet in Ahmedabad, even as expressing the hope that his efforts to reestablish linkages with Gujarat farmers would begin after meeting Modi in the next couple of days.
Patel not just wore an AAP-type cap. Interestingly, the non-resident Indian took the clue of his new project from AAP – he called it “Aam Aadmi Roti Abhiyan.” On display were samples to be distributed for the campaign. The press invite sent to journalists, too, said the NRI’s main effort in India is to answer questions to the “Aam Aadmi’s roti.” Hoping to be heard by Modi, even as adorning AAP-type cap, he said, “I will start my effort towards providing food security from Gujarat, where a huge Rs 11,400 crore worth of foodgrains are wasted during distribution.” A handout given to mediapersons quoted sources to say that Gujarat is No 2 state in India in “wasting vegetables.”
Patel said, he proposes to “involve” private firms in the US to set up “one food processing unit in each of the 729 districts of the country, even as forming a nationwide chain of “farm to consumer shop” through a special purpose vehicle (SPV) at an investment of about US $2.5 billion and the SPV will enter into “crop development contract” with the local “farmers’ crop development cooperatives”. “The contract will provide for procurement of agriculture produce from the farmers at a pre-determined affordable rate and offering the producers share in profit earned through value addition made in the produces”, he said.
Answering a flurry of questions, Patel said, he would “seek” government support for public-private partnership (PPP) of the project, though at the same said declared, “We will not live on government subsidy.” He insisted, “We are an NGO. We will facilitate PPP, but directly invest. Wanting the Government of India to “amend” the new food security Act, Patel said, instead of providing foodgrains under food security, the poor should be provided with “prepared food” – which his chair of foodshops will facilitate. His proposal includes providing Aam Aadmi roti at Rs 2 for five chapatis!
“Working as a corporate body, the SPV will also develop infrastructure and sales-marketing network for distribution and marketing of the farm produce, while the cooperative bodies will look after the backward integration aimed at supply of farm produces”, he said, claiming, “Apart from NRIs from the US, we hope to rope in UNO, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and NABARD are supposed to be partner in the project execution. Implementation of such project in India can also help a lot in successful implementation of food security bill.”
“We have already made a representation in this regard to some policymakers including the Chairman of Economic Advisory Council of Prime Minister D. C Rangarajan and will take the issue with the Gujarat chief minister in due course. We hope that our initiative will go a long way in improving the conditions of the farmers and the poor in India,” he said. He claimed, he “did not belong to any political party” amidst murmurs that he has “actively participated” in Overseas Friends of BJP meeting in the past.

No comments: