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Arvind Kejriwal Accuses Modi Government of Betraying Farmers

The Modi government was worried more about Ambanis and Adanis, he alleged

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Arvind Kejriwal giving speech suring chanda bandh satyagrah
Arvind Kejriwal giving speech during chanda bandh satyagrah

The Modi government has stabbed farmers in the back by telling the Supreme Court that it cannot implement recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Commission which the BJP promised to do so in 2014, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday.

Addressing a farmers rally here at Jantar Mantar, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader also slammed the Centre’s crop insurance scheme as a “fraud” and demanded that it be scrapped.

“Soldiers at the borders and farmers at thier farms are in distress. It’s a sad state of affairs. The BJP has dishonoured the promises it made in 2014,” Arvind Kejriwal said.

Thousands of farmers from across the country marched from Ramlila Maidan to Jantar Mantar in the heart of the capital seeking loan waiver and higher crop prices and warning political parties not to ignore their plight.

Reminding the BJP’s promise vis-a-vis the Swaminathan Commission, Kejriwal accused the ruling party of going back on its election promise.

“They have filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court and said they can’t implement it. There can’t be a greater betrayal than this. This government has stabbed farmers in the back,” he said, asking the government to take back the affidavit.

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (Wikimedia Commons)

He warned that if it failed to do so, farmers would teach the saffron party a lesson in the 2019 elections.

Demanding loan waiver for farmers, he also said that they must get fair price for their produce.

“They are not begging but fighting for their rights. Once their loans are waived, they won’t demand it again. The government should also buy the farmers’ produce at appropriate price.”

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He blasted the government’s crop insurance scheme.

“This is not an insurance scheme but it is BJP’s ‘kisan daka yojna’ (plunder farmers scheme). This must go and the money paid by farmers be returned. Instead, the government should start a compensation scheme for farmers.”

The Modi government was worried more about Ambanis and Adanis, he alleged. (IANS)

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With The Elections Coming Up, Indian Government Promises Farmers Their Income Support

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers.

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Farmers, India
An Indian woman helps her farmer husband irrigate a paddy field using a traditional system, on the outskirts of Gauhati, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

With an eye on wooing voters ahead of what is expected to be a tough national election, India’s Hindu nationalist government announced cash handouts of billions of dollars for poor farmers.

In the annual budget presented in parliament Friday, interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said 120 million farmers with less than two hectares of land would get an income of $85 a year.

Goyal announced that the measure, which will cost about $10.5 billion, would be implemented with immediate effect. “This will pave the way for them to earn a respectable living,” he said. “Such support will help them avoid indebtedness.”

India, Farmers
Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, center, holds a briefcase containing federal budget documents with Junior Finance ministers Shiv Pratap Shukla, center right, and Pon Radhakrishnan, left, upon their arrival at the parliament house in New Delhi, India, Feb. 1, 2019. VOA

Farmers complain that a sharp decline in crop prices has hurt their incomes and driven millions into debt. Rural experts said they were not sure whether the measure will assuage disgruntled rural communities that have been demanding loan waivers and better prices for their produce.

The government also announced a pension scheme of about $40 a month for nearly 100 million poor workers in the country’s vast unorganized sector and tax breaks for the middle classes.

The welfare measures come as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party tries to address rising discontent in the country — there is growing anger in rural areas over falling crop prices and widespread worries that his government has failed to create jobs to meet the needs of the country’s huge young population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party recently lost elections in three heartland states, raising concerns it could struggle to win a majority in the upcoming elections. Modi had sailed to power in 2014 on the promise of creating millions of jobs.

Modi, India, Farmers
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

Although economic growth numbers have been good, lack of jobs has emerged as the biggest challenge for Modi. A report in the Business Standard newspaper says a government survey that has not been released pegs the unemployment rate at a 45-year high of 6.1 percent.

Expressing optimism that “India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity,” Goyal said that infrastructure projects such as building roads in rural areas will boost employment.

The opposition Congress Party slammed the income support of $85 a year announced for farmers as inadequate. Saying that it is not going to be transformational, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “₹6000 [6,000 rupees, or $84] in income support for farmers boils down to ₹500 [500 rupees, or $7] per month. Is that supposed to enable them to live with the honor and dignity?”

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The Congress Party is also trying to woo voters with the promise of a minimum income for the poor if it wins the upcoming general election. The BJP has dismissed the pledge as unaffordable, while economists have expressed concern that the “competitive populism” by India’s two main parties ahead of general elections could strain the country’s finances.

The government said the fiscal deficit this year will rise from 3.3 percent to 3.4 percent due to the outlay for the income scheme for farmers. (VOA)