Hyderabad: After a five-hour cabinet meeting that discussed farmer suicide deaths and agriculture crisis in the Telangana districts, the Telangana government decided to hike compensation for farmer suicide deaths from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 6 lakh.
Deputy chief minister Kadiam Srihari announced that the hiked compensation would be effective from September 19. This is likely to become controversial as those families where farmers killed themselves before September 19 will get only Rs 1.5 lakh as compensation.
Besides, critics are asking if the government is expecting more farmers to kill themselves instead of reaching out to them and stopping them from taking the extreme step.
”We appeal to farmers with folded hands to face the situation bravely, and assure that the government will stand by you,” the deputy chief minister, agriculture minister and home minister said in a joint press conference after the cabinet meeting.
So if earlier compensation to family was one lakh rupees for creating livelihood, now that is five lakh rupees. And earlier, Rs 50,000 was for one-time settlement of all outstanding loans, that has now been increased to one lakh rupees.
The government said a decision on declaring districts or mandals as drought-hit would be taken after September 30. In a welcome move, the government also announced that 1,000 new agriculture officers will be appointed to observe and offer advice for every 2000 hectares of farm land.
According to the government, 430 farmer suicide deaths have been reported in the last one year of which 141 have been found eligible for compensation in accordance with the government’s criteria.
Opposition parties have claimed at least 1200 farmers have killed themselves in the same period.
Top Congress and BJP leaders, Narendra Modi and Rahul gandhi are all set to plunge into the electioneering in Telangana for the next month’s Assembly polls even as the ruling TRS has had a head start.
With the deadline for withdrawal of nominations coming to an end on Thursday, all major contenders were finalising their schedules for their star campaigners.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu, several central ministers and top leaders of the two national parties were set to hit the campaign trail.
Sonia Gandhi will be addressing an election meeting at Medchal on the outskirts here on November 23. The meet was expected to give a headstart to the party’s campaign as it heads a four-party ‘Mahakutami’ or grand alliance ahead of the single phase December 7 polls.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi will share the stage with his mother on Friday at the meet.
As this is Sonia Gandhi’s first visit to Telangana after the formation of the state, the party leaders were holding it as a thanksgiving event in her honour for carving out the state.
Rahul Gandhi will again visit Telangana on November 28 and 29 and later on December 3 to address a series of rallies in different parts of the state.
Modi was expected to give boost to the Bharatiya Janata Party campaign by addressing a few rallies on November 27 and December 3. State BJP leaders say Modi may participate in the campaign in four districts, including here, covering the constituencies where the party is considered strong.
BJP chief Amit Shah, who addressed a couple of public meetings during September and October, plans to visit Telangana for three days soon to address 12 rallies.
Party’s Telangana unit president K. Laxman said Amit Shah will address the meetings on November 25, 27 and 28.
BJP is contesting all 119 seats on its own. Several union ministers are also likely to campaign for the party candidates. Health Minister J.P. Nadda and party general secretary Ram Madhav have already addressed a few meetings.
In his first-ever election in alliance with Congress party, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is likely to address a few rallies. Party leaders say he may share the dais with Rahul Gandhi.
TDP, a constituent of ‘Mahakutami’ is contesting on 14 seats. Popular actor and TDP MLA N. Balakrishna may also address a few meetings, especially in Kukatpally constituency here, where his niece N. Suhasini is a candidate.
Suhasini is the granddaughter of TDP founder N.T. Rama Rao. Her actor brothers Junior NTR and Kalyan Ram are also likely to campaign for her.
Meanwhile, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) is racing ahead in the campaign with party president and Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao addressing series of rallies. He is criss-crossing the state in a helicopter, seeking fresh mandate.
KCR, who had already addressed few meetings after dissolving the state assembly in September, plans to address 90 meetings in 15 days.
KCR’s son K.T. Rama Rao is another key campaigner for the party. He has hit campaign trail here and in surrounding districts, focusing on constituencies with sizeable number of voters who have their roots in Andhra Pradesh.
Besides, KCR’s daughter and party MP K. Kavitha and nephew Harish Rao were the other key campaigners for the party.
The campaign of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) is being led by its president and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi. He is addressing public meetings and conducting foot march for his party’s candidates in the eight constituencies here. (IANS)