The BJP CM went back on his 2013 campaign promise to raise paddy price
The Indian National Congress is headed for a two-thirds majority in the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly, defying predictions by many pundits. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), on the other hand, stares at a major defeat on the back of 15 years of incumbency.
The agrarian crisis is being said to be a major reason behind this crushing defeat of the Raman Singh government. Singh has been popular as chaul-wale baba (the man with rice) for his scheme of providing cheap rice to poor, mostly tribal, villagers through a robust public distribution system.
But did he take care of the state’s 37 lakh farmers? Chhattisgarh has been one of the top rice producers in India, contributing 3.03 million tonne (MT) rice to the central pool. It is only behind Punjab (11 MT) and Haryana (3.5 MT) in this respect.
Despite helping the country become food secure, farmers are in distress due to the lack of remunerative prices for their crop.
“We don’t get a proper price for our paddy,” said Ram Singh Bhardawaj, a small farmer from Bijapur in Delhi on November 29. The backward caste farmer came to the Capital along with more than 100 farmers to join protesting counterparts from all over the country.
Like elsewhere, farmers in Chhattisgarh too are in debt. And they have been angry with Singh over unfulfilled promises. The outgoing CM had promised to raise minimum support price for paddy to Rs 2,100 from Rs 1,310 during his 2013 election campaign. He also promised a bonus of Rs 200 per quintal.
After returning to power, however, he did not act on his word and put the blame on the then central government led by Manmohan Singh. Even when Narendra Modi became the PM he did not take any step to deliver on his poll promise.
Modi, in fact, even asked states to not give any bonus to farmers.
The Congress, on the other hand, promises to waive off farmers’ loans and guarantees to procure paddy at Rs 1,770. According to some media reports, many farmers have held onto their crops, waiting for the election results.
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