A peasant woman from Chhattisgarh has trashed reports in a section of the media that PM Narendra Modi misrepresented her story in a recent online interaction with farmers.

These reports suggested that the PM had falsely woven the story of success achieved by Chandramani Kaushik from Kanker district in Chhattisgarh. But in a damning video statement available with MyNation, Kaushik rubbished these claims and said senior journalists have twisted her words and used them selectively.

After the woman’s statement, one wonders if this was, as the BJP has been claiming for a long time, one of the many attempts solely to discredit the PM and set the narrative that everything is wrong with farming under the current regime? Or is a section of the intelligentsia upset to see farmers happy and getting their due?

Here is how it unfolded.

Kaushik had told PM Modi that her income had doubled after shifting from the traditional paddy-centric agriculture to fruit-pulp processing.

She had also told him during the interaction that while growing rice (“dhaan”) had been unprofitable, the new venture doubled her income. She said women had formed a self-help group and now marketing the pulp which brought them substantially more returns than just selling the fruit.

Doubling farm income by 2022 is one of the central projects of the Modi government to bring relief to the languishing farm sector.

Soon after the interaction, a section of media tracked Kaushik to her village in Kanker. They sought to show how Kaushik had been forced and tutored by officials who had come visiting from Delhi to stage a false story about her income.

But while inventing this counter-narrative, a few things went wrong. First, as can be seen in the interaction video with Modi, Kaushik never said her income had been doubled by sowing rice/paddy. She clearly told the PM that the secret was her shifting to fruit and pulp processing. The key was ‘sitafal’ or ‘sharifa’ (custard apple).

Second, to the reporter of the concerned TV channel, Kaushik just said: “I was asked if I would be able to talk to the Prime Minister. I said ‘Yes’.”

She never once said that she was either forced to lie, or that her income had not doubled. She honestly also said, as she had told Modi, that rice cultivation was not profitable.

Apart from her very short byte, rest was commentary and using the technical-visual tools of television, the channel ran a detailed byte of the sarpanch of the village. It is he who said, “It is doubtful looking at the state of affairs that her income could be doubled from rice cultivation.”

Meanwhile, in a new video statement, Kaushik debunks this spin: “I had told the Prime Minister about doubling my income by processing the pulp of sitafal. They are talking about agriculture, but I had said that pulp processing led to doubling of my income. I had told the PM that earlier, while sitafal cultivation got us around Rs 50, after training we get double the amount by processing pulp. I was talking about pulp only and not rice.”

Instead of a robust fact-check, this episode seems to only bolster the BJP’s claim that a section of Lutyens’ media has been putting narrative over news and fiction over fact to discredit a democratically elected government that it dislikes.