The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday promised that it will procure paddy from farmers in Chhattisgarh at Rs 3,100 per quintal if it comes to power in the state. The Congress government in the state purchases the crop at Rs 2,600 per quintal, a price that is already the highest in the country.
The BJP’s announcement can have a significant impact in the state, where over 24 lakh farmers are beneficiaries of the subsidy. The elections for the 90-member Assembly will be held in two phases on November 7 and November 17.
In a manifesto released by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Raipur on Friday, the BJP promised to make payments to paddy farmers in a single installment against the four installments of the Congress.
The BJP assured that it will procure 21 quintals of paddy per acre from farmers after the Congress announced that it will buy 20 quintals of paddy from the next procurement cycle.
The BJP has packaged the higher procurement price as “Modi ki guarantee” to counter the success of the Congress government’s scheme.
Ahead of the 2013 Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, the BJP had promised to give farmers a bonus of Rs 300 on every quintal of paddy the state purchased.
But after coming to power, it disbursed the amount for only the first two years. The payments were discontinued after the Modi government at the Centre asked states to stop giving bonuses on paddy and wheat procurement. This move is said to have dented BJP’s claim to power in the 2018 Assembly polls.
Under the Congress government’s Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana, the state provides a bonus of Rs 600 per quintal over and above the Centre-mandated minimum support price for the crop. The bonus comes to Rs 9,000 per acre, since the state has promised to buy 15 quintals of paddy per acre even if the crop fails.
The Congress has also hinted at increasing its paddy procurement rate if it is elected to power again.
“Since there is an average 30% increase in MSP every year, along with our subsidy, farmers could receive more than Rs 3,600 per quintal by next year,” Chhattisgarh Minister Ravindra Choubey told The Times of India in September.
Besides paddy procurement prices, the BJP has promised cooking gas cylinders for Rs 500 to women from poor families and Rs 10,000 annual allowance to landless agricultural labourers. This comes after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi announced that that landless farmers will get Rs 10,000, and free health coverage of the poor will be increased from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh.