Last Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the first instalment of Rs 2,000 under the PM-Kisan scheme to the farmers in the country. The very same day, the Congress government in Rajasthan issued a notification to grant pension to small and marginal elderly farmers.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, farmers are at the centre of Union and Rajasthan governments’ agenda, which can be seen in the sops doled out to them in recent times.
Last Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi released the first instalment of Rs 2,000 under the PM-Kisan scheme to the farmers in the country. The very same day, the Congress government in Rajasthan issued a notification to grant pension to small and marginal elderly farmers. Under the scheme, the state government will give Rs 750 per month to female and male farmers 55 and 58 years respectively and Rs 1,000 per month to all farmers of 75 years.
Earlier, within two months of forming the government in Rajasthan, chief minister Ashok Gehlot waived loans of 34 lakh farmers putting an additional burden of Rs 18,000 crore on the state exchequer. The step was among the 19 policy decisions taken by the state government, a majority of them in favour of farmers.
The other policy decisions of the Gehlot government include not increasing agriculture power tariff for next five years, formation of Kisan Aayog, electricity connections to one lakh farmers by June, Rs 2 per litre grant to dairy committees, agriculture input subsidy of Rs 1,752 crore in drought-affected nine districts, clearing dues of farmers whose crops were purchased on the MSP — the government will take Rs 1,000 crore loan to pay the farmers — and removing land use restriction for farmers setting-up food processing unit in land up to 10 hectare.
The state government is also providing wheat at Rs 1 per kg to Antodaya, BPL and state BPL families benefitting 1.74 crore people. The unemployment allowance of Rs 3,500 and Rs 3,000 to unemployed male and female youth respectively has also been started from February 1. The chief minister has also increased the pension of freedom fighters to Rs 25,000 from Rs 20,000 and medical aid to Rs 5,000 from Rs 4,000. Besides, the pension of the soldiers and widows of the soldiers who took part in the Second World War has been increased to Rs 10,000 from Rs 4,000.
Political analyst Narayan Bareth said the two main parties, the BJP and the Congress, are wooing farmers. “In the coming time, both the parties will try to focus on Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan,” he said. “BJP obviously will have the upper hand, as it will try to cash in on the issue of nationalism. The Prime Minister has already been mentioning farmers and soldiers in his meetings,” he added.
Congress spokesperson and vice-president of the party’s state unit, Archana Sharma said the Congress has always raised the issue of farmers as they are distressed. “The decisions taken by Congress government in Rajasthan in last two months focus on it,” she said. “Now, the BJP is saving its face with false promises. The PM-Kisan scheme is also an election gimmick to garner votes,” she alleged.
BJP spokesperson Mukesh Pareek alleged the way Congress is talking of farmers is mere “eyewash”.
“The PM-Kisan’s first instalment has already reached farmers. It is unfortunate that the state government is not releasing the list of beneficiaries of the scheme,” he said. “Similarly, the benefit of Ayushmaan Bharat (health scheme) is availed by all the states, but the state government has still not updated the center,” he added.
He alleged, “Congress shows to be working in the interest of farmers, but the party is not providing benefit of the central schemes.”