Facing anti-incumbency and the spectre of a formidable Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) combine in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is looking to reap a rich electoral harvest of ‘PM Kisan’, the flagship minimum income guarantee scheme for small and marginal farmers.
So far, more than 10 million UP farmers have already received the first installment of Rs 2,000 in their bank accounts, totalling over Rs 2,000 crore in payouts.
Together with PM Kisan dole and the earlier UP crop loan waiver scheme worth Rs 36,000 crore, the Yogi Adityanath government is confident it would be able to turn the tides in favour during voting.
Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana (PM Kisan) is targetted at over 120 million small and marginal farmers across India, of which UP comprises the maximum number of 21.4 million farmers or nearly 18% of beneficiaries. PM Kisan is estimated to cost Rs 75,000 crore annually. It guarantees income of Rs 6,000 annually, payable in equal instalment of Rs 2,000 every four months.
The scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a Gorakhpur rally on February 24. The party had deliberately chosen Gorakhpur in UP to launch the scheme to reassert the importance of the state in the larger agenda of the saffron party given the fact that it comprises the maximum number of 80 LS seats.
“So far, more than 10.03 million small and marginal farmers have received money in their bank accounts,” UP agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi told Business Standard.
“The state farmers are happy and feel that with PM Kisan, the central government has shown its commitment towards addressing the vital agricultural issues and taken a long term measure to support their income,” he added.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait claimed although PM Kisan does not fully compensate against rising farm input costs, yet it provided temporary relief to farmers to meet sundry agricultural expenses.
Yesterday, SP president Akhilesh Yadav had put PM Kisan in dock alleging the money being credited to the farmers’ bank accounts was getting forfeited within 24 hrs. He had based his allegation on media reports and feedback from beneficiaries. Yadav had even demanded a probe even as he flayed the Modi government for allegedly duping the farmers with false promises.
However, Shahi refuted his allegations saying there were no such reports or complaints in the state. “The opposition has no agenda and they are responsible for the problems being faced by the farmers. Their regimes neither provided remunerative prices to farmers nor ensured prompt payments against procurement.’
SP leader Prof Sudhir Panwar claimed the PM Kisan beneficiary count was inflated and charged the BJP dispensation with misleading the public with the scheme.