RAIPUR : With elections coming up next year, the BJP government of Chhattisgarh is hoping to reap a vote dividend by finally implementing from Tuesday a pledge it made in 2013 to give a bonus to paddy farmers in the state.
Chief Minister Raman Singh on Monday wrote a letter to over 13 lakh paddy cultivators stating that they would stand to get a bonus of Rs 300 per quintal procured from them.
The bonus — totalling Rs 2100 crore — for paddy procured in 2016-17 will reach farmers before Diwali this year. A like amount will be paid next year for paddy procured in 2017-18. “This will boost villages economically,” the chief minister wrote.
District collectors have been asked to organise ‘bonus tihars’ (tihar means festival in the Chhattisgarhi dialect) from October 3 to 13 when distribution of bonus money will begin in the 18 rice producing districts of the state. Farmers in the state have been agitating for the promised bonus of Rs 300 per quintal — to top up the minimum support price of Rs 2,100 on paddy. The Congress said Raman Singh’s gambit is “too little too late” for farmers.
BJP president Amit Shah has set the party a target of 66 seats in the 90-seat Assembly. The target will not be possible without the support of farmers. The Congress has been stoking farmer expectations by prodding them to demand bonuses for all years beginning 2013, when the BJP made its promise.
“Such declarations will serve the interests of the BJP more than the farmers,” said Sanket Thakur, coordinator of the Chhattisgarh Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh, an umbrella body of 22 organisations.