On June 20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with 5 crore farmers(as claimed) via “Narendra Modi mobile app” video conference talking about issues related to the farm sector. Chandramani Kaushik from Chhattisgarh’s Kanker district became an overnight sensation after she appeared on the video conference, in a supposed casual chat with the PM himself. The interaction between PM Modi and Chandramani Kaushik can be heard between 14:00 to 17:00 minute.
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In the video, at least 17 beneficiaries can be seen sitting together and Chandramani starts the conversation with the PM. She starts the conversation by introducing herself and then says that earlier she used to cultivate paddy in a 2-acre field but the income of Rs 15,000 – Rs 20,000(She doesn’t mention if it was yearly or monthly) wasn’t sufficient for her family. Later she shifted to a small time Sitafal (custard apple) farmer and she says that when at a time she was earning Rs 50 from a kilo, now she earns Rs 700. Later, PM specifically asks her if her income has got doubled, she replies in affirmative.
ABP News Investigation
To get to the bottom of the claim, ABP news reached Kanker village and met Chandramani and the other women in her group who sell Sitafal. What they found was that Chandramani was tutored to say all the things that she did.
PM जी अपनी मन की बात सुनाते हैं यह तो सभी जानते थे। आज यह मालूम पड़ रहा है कि वह सिर्फ अपने ही मन की बात सुनना भी चाहते हैं । pic.twitter.com/dEqvklqtRR
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 9, 2018
The reporter asks her whether her income got doubled due to paddy cultivation, she denied that paddy cultivation doubled her income(this is where ABP news went wrong as she never mentioned that her income got doubled due to paddy cultivation and she specifically told that she shifted to Sitafal farming). The village sarpanch along with her claimed that officials from Delhi’s Agriculture Department had come and tutored Chandramani as to what she has to say with the promise of meeting Narendra Modi. The other women of her group also said that doubling income is a far-fetched dream. They have to spend money from their own pockets at times.
After this report was published on July 6, a major controversy erupted. On July 9, unnamed government sources visited Chandramani and said that the report published by ABP News was completely false. These sources said that it wasn’t paddy-farming but growing Sitaphal that had doubled her income.
“The farmer had specifically told PM that her income doubled as a result of value addition with Sitaphal farming and not Dhan (paddy) production. The media house suggested that the income did not increase with the Dhan production, which was never anyone’s claim,” The Times of India quoted the government sources as saying.
Chhatisgarh government released a press note on it saying that the news channel stated the facts wrongly.
ABP sent the reporter back to dig the facts
ये है सच: माननीय रक्षा मंत्री @nsitharaman , माननीय मुख्यमंत्री छत्तीसगढ़ @drramansingh , माननीय केंद्रीय सूचना एवं प्रसारण मंत्री (स्वतंत्र प्रभार) @Ra_THORe जी . ये है आपके द्वारा उठाए गए सवालों का ABP न्यूज़ की तरफ से जवाब. फुल वीडियो लिंक https://t.co/r3E65lxAJa pic.twitter.com/5FtYwbkM1b
— ABP न्यूज़ हिंदी (@abpnewshindi) July 10, 2018
The ABP anchor talks about Chhatisgarh govt’s notification and then shifts to Sitafal cultivation. Chandramani had claimed in the conversation with the Prime Minister that her daily income had increased from Rs 50-60 per day to a profit of Rs 700. However, when enquired this time by the reporter on earning from Sitafal, Chandramani mentions that Rs 700 is shared among twelve women who form the group, bringing her share to Rs 58. When reporter enquired again on doubling of income Chandramani remained silent. This time the report also highlights the dismal condition of farmers of the village.
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 their income, but all of them said no to the reporter and this is the reality.”
What’s the conclusion
- ABP news made a mistake when the reporter asked the income of the farmer relating it to paddy.
- Chandramani Kaushik income hasn’t got doubled, neither from Paddy nor from Sitafal.
- Farmers are living in dismal condition with income even less than of NAREGA workers.
- Past three years have seen multiple protests from farmers all over India. It is time government focusses on solving their real issues instead of cherry-picking few farmers and showing that the schemes brought by them are successful.