Prime Minister Narendra Modi would launch the flagship farmers’ minimum income guarantee scheme, projected to cost the exchequer nearly Rs 75,000 crore annually, on February 24 in Gorakhpur.
The scheme, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, was announced in Union Budget 2019-20 tabled in Parliament on February 1 by acting finance minister Piyush Goyal to keep farmers in good humour before Lok Sabha polls and the backdrop of the opposition sharpening attack on the Modi government over farm distress.
The scheme guarantees annual financial support of Rs 6,000 in three instalments to about 125 million small and marginal farmers in India with land holdings of less than 2 hectares. Uttar Pradesh would be the biggest beneficiary with almost 23.5 million small and marginal farmers falling under the umbrella.
Interestingly, Gorakhpur is the traditional turf of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath. However, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had lost the last Gorakhpur bypolls to the combined opposition candidate after the CM had resigned from the constituency following his elevation to the top post in the state.
Last night, the CM reviewed the preparations for the proposed mega event on Feb 24 and stressed the importance of the scheme for the alleviation of the small and marginal farmers. He directed officials to upload the names of beneficiaries on the designated PM Kisan portal and Aadhar seeding of their bank accounts so that they could get their money instantly at the inaugural ceremony.
Under the scheme, the beneficiary farmer would be paid Rs 2,000 every four months directly in their bank accounts. Since, the scheme was launched retrospectively from December 1, 2018, the first instalment of Rs 2,000 is due within the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2019 i.e. before the Lok Sabha polls.
Meanwhile, Modi would also address a public meeting, where he is likely to reiterate the ruling party’s self-acclaimed pro-farmer agenda in the backdrop of the opposition painting the central government as anti-democratic and anti-people dispensation with Congress president Rahul Gandhi subtly building the anti-Modi narrative weaved around alleged corruption in Rafale fighter jets deal.
On his visit to Lucknow earlier this month, union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh had blamed the previous Congress regimes for failing to address farm issues saying the party had ruled India for 48 years after Independence, yet it could not resolve the prevailing farm crisis beyond coining slogans.
He also claimed farm infrastructure projects had been lying stuck for past several decades under the Congress rule, while the Swaminathan Commission recommendations were not implemented, which would have otherwise majorly improved the socioeconomic condition of farmers by now.
The National Commission on Farmers was constituted by then Manmohan Singh government in November 2004 under the chairmanship of Professor M S Swaminathan to find solutions to the country’s farm crisis. The Commission submitted five reports between December 2004 and October 2006.
Singh claimed the total agricultural budget during the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government (2009-14) stood at Rs 1.21 trillion, while the Modi government had increased the outlay by 75% to Rs 2.11 trillion. In the Budget 2019-20, the Modi government has hiked the agricultural outlay to Rs 1.41 trillion, which is 16% higher than the total 5-year farm budget allocation during the erstwhile UPA regime (2009-14) at Rs 1.21 trillion, he added.