It remains to be seen whether these programmes are announced as part of the interim Budget due to be present on February 1.
New Delhi: After the rout in the Hindi heartland and with the general election fast approaching, the government appears to be looking at various options to woo rural India, farmers in particular. Speculation is rife that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is considering a number of options, including a possible cash handout to farmers.
The BJP has recognised the need to address agrarian distress after the drubbing it got in the recent Assembly polls when the Congress managed to come to power in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
Sources said the options now under consideration by the government include a monthly income support scheme for farmers, a cash handout plan for the shortfall between the actual sale price and state-set procurement rate and a revamped crop insurance programme. It remains to be seen whether these programmes are announced as part of the interim Budget due to be present on February 1.
The programmes, specially the monthly income support programme, was likely to benefit as many as 150 million farm households — a crucial bloc of votes in an election year. Another alternative being considered is a revamp of the crop insurance programme. Sources said the changes could include a cut in the premium paid by farmers, the inclusion of more crops to avail state incentives and bringing tenant farmers under its ambit.
The government has earlier made efforts like increasing the support prices of crops such as cotton, soybean and rice, but this measure had not made any real difference in addressing farm distress.
It might be recalled that Prime Minister Modi had earlier pledged to double farm incomes by 2022. The agrarian distress has becomes a major poll plank before the 2019 general election. In September and December, farmers organised long marches which culminated in New Delhi and were addressed by almost all the Opposition parties and virtually sowed the seeds for the recent rout of the ruling party in the Assembly polls.