Political parties in poll-bound States are vying with each other to address agriculture-related issues with MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana ranking either on top or the second slot in national production of several crops.

The BJP has belatedly promised ₹3,100/quintal paddy price in Chhattisgarh after Congress announced to hike it to ₹3,000 from current ₹2,640. The saffron party is making up for its slackening on the farm sector as farmers have sensed their centrality in the crucial elections.

The Congress, which won the 2018 Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on the back of loan waiver, has already announced to waive farm loan up to ₹2 lakh per farmer in Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh while it is likely to soon announce in Rajasthan during release of manifesto.

Key issue

“Farmers realise how important each of the issues raised by us are. They feel proud to show their strong bond with political parties of their choices and the fact that they are willing to take note of our issues,” said Rampal Jat, president of Kisan Mahapanchayat in Rajasthan.

Farmer leaders in all these poll-bound States believe that the BJP does not place as much premium on their issues as their emotive agenda like Ram Mandir or Developed India promise. “Despite fixing the MSPs at 50 per cent over costs in 2018, the BJP lost Assembly polls two months later in three States. The BJP probably believes that we do not influence polls as much as other factors,” said Ram Naresh Sirohi, a farmer leader from Madhya Pradesh.

Another leader Shiv Kumar Kakkajee of Samyukta Kisan Morcha, which spearheaded a year-long protest against three farm laws (since withdrawn), has been leading a yatra for the past 46 days in major districts of MP which will culminate in Dewas next week. Kakkajee wants both the BJP and the Congress to sit up and take note of their issues.

“We have been making farmers aware about the past track record of both BJP and Congress with regard to farmer-related issues without appealing whom they should vote,” Kakkajee told businessline.

After the farm loan waiver by the Congress, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao cleared in August 2023 his party’s 2018 promise of loan waiver. Even Rao’s Rythu Bandhu scheme, first in the country in direct cash transfer to farmers, has been played up by the Congress which has promised ₹15,000/acre to both landholding and tenant farmers, up from ₹10,000/year which landowning farmers only get now.

Top rice producers

Telangana has become second largest rice producer in 2022-23. Chhattisgarh is among top five rice producers from a position of seven in 2018-19. Madhya Pradesh has become among top 10 in five years. In wheat production, it has become second largest producer from No. 3 in 2018-19, while retaining its same position in bajra at No.5 , and improving its position in mustard to third from fourth rank.

Rajasthan has been continuously at top in mustard production having more than 45 per cent share and also the leader in Bajra. It continues at third rank in soyabean and number 5 in wheat. In cotton output, the State has become the fourth largest producer from fifth position in 2018-19. Telangana is the third largest cotton producer in the country.