Sops for Farmers: Is Yeddyurappa on Same Jumla Track as Modi?
Representational Image. Image Courtesy: The Hindu
B S Yeddyurappa took oath as Chief Minister of Karnataka for the fourth time on July 26, 2019 and just a day after that, that is on Saturday, he announced his “great” plan for farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKSN).
PMKSN is an ambitious project launched by the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) central government in its Interim Budget to provide income support to peasants. The project promises Rs 6,000 per annum as income for a farming family; Yeddyurappa has announced that the state government will be providing an additional Rs 4,000 and thus Rs, 10,000 per annum.
As Vikram Singh writes in NewsClick, the scheme offers a petty amount of Rs 500 a month for a farming family, which amounts to completely dishonouring the hard work being done by the community. Thus, making it Rs 840 from Rs 500, the BJP need not boast of doing a favour to farmers in the state. For, farmers in the state don’t need any favours but sustainable policies -- both at the state and the central levels.
The big questions for the BJP government in Karnataka now are of the severe water crisis and the prevailing drought in the region. As Newsclick has reported in the past, the then Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government had said that it was receiving insufficient funds from the central government to implement both the National Rural Drinking Water Project (NRDWP) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
The BJP, however, had rubbished this by saying the state government was not utilising the allocations and the then government, headed by H D Kumaraswamy, had accused the central government of being partial towards the states governed by BJP. Now that for the first time in the history of the state, there is a BJP government both at the Centre and the state, one wonders if this means a change in the politico-economic relations between the two.
Even if we assume the relationship between the state government of Karnataka and the central government will change positively, it still wouldn’t ensure that the pleas of the farmers will get better attention. The farmers have witnessed the “support” that they would be granted under the Modi government in the last five years; it is not at all impressive. As a report in Deccan Herald rightly observes, “farmers’ suicides are increasing. However, the statistics are not reflecting it. After 2016, the National Crime Records Bureau has stopped publishing data related to farmers’ suicides. In a two-decade period from 1995-2016, as many as 3.1 lakh farmers have committed suicide The problem is serious and compounding. In adivasi and dalit areas, there is hunger and malnutrition, and deaths of children have been reported.” If this shows the apathy of the Modi government towards farmers, its insurance company friendly insurance policy, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) has a story of its inability to convince farmers about its policies.
As and when the new Chief Minister of Karnataka made the above announcement, Prajavani, a Kannada daily, published a report saying many farmers in the state are not even registering for availing of an insurance under the scheme. According to this report, in 2018-2019, as many as 12.22 lakh farmers could avail crop insurance under the scheme; and in 2019-2020 (till date) as less as only 1.91 lakh farmers have taken up the insurance. Until the beginning of July, the report notes except for Gadag, Tumkur, Chitradurga, and Haveri districts, no district can claim more than 10,000 farmers availing the insurance. This will be an issue, as the report says, due to the scanty pre-monsoon showers cases of crop losses are being reported across the state.
Yeddyurappa was the first BJP chief minister of Karnataka in 2008. He had taken oath in the name of "God and the farmers of the state.” He had to resign in 2011 just after two years in the office, after the Karnataka Lokayukta directed an investigation of his involvement in the infamous Bellary mining scam. He was succeeded by Sadananda Gowda till 2013, followed by Siddaramaiah of Congress, who formed the government after winning 2013 Assembly elections.
Speaking to Newsclick before the Assembly elections in the state on May 12, 2018, K.P Suresh, a columnist, translator and activist based in Mysore, had recollected, “Yeddyurappa’s rule was a nightmare and people are not happy. People remember the five years of BJP very much. If they critique Siddaramaiah’s government for things that haven’t worked, this critique is always followed by even more vehement a critique of the BJP.”
Forming the government the way in which Yediyurappa-lled BJP has in the state this time, the stakes and expectations from the government are high. One wonders if the BJP government of Karnataka is following the track of the central government of announcing a set of jumlas (hollow statements).
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