BJP to deploy volunteers to teach farmers ‘spiritual and religious’ side to agriculture

By Hindustan Times on 13 Oct 2017 | read

The Bharatiya Janata Party will launch an outreach programme for farmers, sending out nearly 50,000 workers to proclaim “spiritual and religious” benefits to agriculture and to spread the word on the “achievements” of the government, sources in the party said.

The programme is part of the government’s attempts to win over farmers after rising unrest in recent months. Officials fear government schemes are not translating into benefits, and may imperil Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise to double farm incomes by 2022.

“The training programme has five modules,” a BJP leader who is part of the exercise told HT. This include the spiritual and religious side of agriculture, history of agriculture, current situation of the farm sector, achievements of the governments at the centre and the state and suggestions for welfare.

The programme is expected to begin after Diwali and will be divided according to assembly constituencies.

“We don’t have to depend on officials,” agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh told BJP’s farm wing leaders at a meeting on Thursday. “Party leaders should be trained enough to ensure maximum enrolment in welfare schemes.”

According to a leader present at the meeting, the BJP volunteers will guide farmers in making the best use of centre’s policies.

Agriculture and allied sectors account for more than 50% of India’s workforce and is a major contributor to India’s GDP.

Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are among regions where a large part of the population is in agriculture.

A promise to waive off farm loans is considered among key factors behind BJP’s historic two-thirds majority in Uttar Pradesh this year, but the Yogi Adityanath government has drawn flak for distributing paltry amounts, as low as less than a rupee, to the beneficiaries.

Leaders in the BJP fear such messaging could be counterproductive in future elections and it needs to address problems in the sector well ahead of the next general election.