Bhopal: With by-polls due in the state, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj SinghChouhan’ announcement that the state will give Rs 4,000 to farmers per annum under the Mukhyamantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (MKSN) on Tuesday is an attempt to kill two birds with one stone.
The move is being seen as Chouhan’s way of trying to snuff out the anger of farmers over the recently passed farm bills in the Parliament. Secondly, it is an attempt to counter the Congress’ loan waiver scheme, under which loans of nearly 26.90 lakh farmers have been waived during its 15-month rule. The Congress was all set to make a poll issue.
The by-polls for 28 seats in Madhya Pradesh will take place at the same time that Bihar goes to polls, in October and November this year.
The scheme announced by the MP government is on the lines of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKSN). Under it, farmers get Rs 6,000 a year in three installments from the Centre. The scheme announced by Chouhan will enable nearly 77 lakh farmers to avail Rs 4,000 each year in two installments.
“Farmers in Madhya Pradesh will now receive financial support of Rs 10,000 a year. Rs 6,000 under PMKSN and Rs 4,000 under MKSN,” Chouhan said while unveiling the scheme on Tuesday in Bhopal. “The first installment will be transferred on September 25 on the birth anniversary of Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya,” he added.
Charting out the details of the scheme, Chief Secretary Iqbal Singh Bains said: “All the 77 lakh farmers registered under PMKSN will receive the first installment on September 25, although there are nearly one crore land holding farmers in the State.”
“To extend the benefit of the scheme to the remaining farmers, they have to register on the MKSN portal and after verification by patwaris of their respective areas, they will receive the amount in their bank accounts,” Bains added.
The CM also announced a Rs 800 crore budget for co-operative banks from where farmers can take interest free farm loans. In addition, the CM also distributed Kisan Credit Cards to 63,000 beneficiaries.
Attempt to Snuff Out farmers’ Anger
A day after the three farmers’ bills were passed in Parliament, farmers took to the streets and staged protests across the state, including in the capital city of Bhopal.
Two farmers’ associations – Bhartiya Kisan Union and Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh – not only held a protest in Bhopal but also threatened to launch a massive state-wide protest on September 25. Leaders of the RSS-backed Bhartiya Kisan Sangh also met with the Chief Minster Chouhan.
Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh leader Shivkumar Shukla said: “The model the Union Government is planning on implementig has failed in major countries like the USA. We are totally against it and creating awareness among the farmers. Soon, we will launch a massive protest.”
Backing Shivkumar, Bhartiya Kisan Union leader Anil Yadav said that the state government is trying to “divert the farmers’ attention” using the newly introduced MKSN scheme, “but it will not succeed”.
Farm Loan Waiver a Hoax?
Since the fall of the Congress government in March this year, BJP leaders, including CM Chouhan and Rajya Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, have been claiming that the Congress’ farm loan waiver was a hoax. Both the parties have clashed over the allegations.
‘No farm loans have been waived by the Congress government. This is a lie.’ The lines are common in BJP leaders’ speeches during rallies. Agriculture Minister Kamal Patel even urged farmers to register an FIR against former Chief Minister Kamal Nath for cheating and betraying their trust.
Nevertheless, on September 22, the BJP conceded in the state assembly that loans of 26.95 lakh farmers worth Rs 11,646 crore have been waived by the Congress government in two phases in their 15-month regime.
The following day, the Congress held a press conference and launched a scathing attack on BJP leaders and demanded an apology from senior party leaders for publicly lying about the farm loan waiver.
“The BJP is trying to wash their farm loan waiver lies with another lie,” said Narendra Saluja, a Congress leader. “It is almost impossible for a state to pay Rs 4,000 to nearly one crore farmers every year when it has a debt of Rs 2.13 lakh crore. This is nothing but an eyewash to lure the farmers,” Saluja added.