NEW DELHI: Addressing farmer distress is on top of the government’s mind - having burnt its fingers at the hustings recently - and a big announcement is around the corner, but it will certainly not be a loan waiver scheme.
The message came out loud and clear on Thursday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi lit into the Congress for gloating over the success of its loan waiver poll card, claiming they had actually fooled the farmers. He chose a party rally at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh to articulate his views on the big vote-catcher issue for the first time after the BJP’s poll rout in three Hindi-speaking states.
A day earlier, Modi held a high-level meeting to formulate a wide-ranging plan that would comprehensively address concerns of farmers. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, BJP chief Amit Shah and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh attended the nearly three-hour-long meeting. Successful farm relief models implemented in states like Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand were discussed.
Sources claimed the Centre may replicate the Bhavantar scheme in Madhya Pradesh that envisages paying farmers the difference between the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for their crop and the market rate.
Congress is a master at misleading farmers.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 27, 2018
Their fake promises and tokenism will not cut ice with the hardworking farmers of India. pic.twitter.com/VgNupyi3ZE
A source claimed the relief plan could be announced by the first week of January.
A senior official in the ministry of agriculture said all options were discussed, including that of farmers not getting MSPs for their crops though they have been raised about 1.5 times by this government. The merit of another scheme from BJP-ruled Jharkhand - to give direct fixed subsidy to farmers - was also discussed. Also on the table was the option of raising the credit limit of the Kisan Credit Card.
Addressing the Dharamsala rally, Modi, without naming the Congress, said, “Those who were in the habit of looting, they are now feeling afraid of the country’s chowkidar and are now abusing him. They were now befooling the farmers in the name of waiving farm loans.”
Bhavantar plan on top of the heap
The successful Bhavantar scheme in MP that pays the difference between the MSP and the market rate to the farmers as also the Jharkhand model to give direct fixed subsidy to farmers were discussed.