As many as 191 farmer associations in the country have rejected the Budget as ‘anti-farmer’ and have drawn up plans to organise a week-long protest all across the country from next week.
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella organisation of over 190 farmer groups across the country, will organise protest rallies, public meetings and seminars at over 1,000 places in the country to expose what it calls a “jumla Budget” between February 12 and February 19.
“Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is befooling the nation saying this is a farmer-friendly Budget. Even though the government acknowledges for the first time in the Budget that Indian farmers are in distress, the Budgetary allocation for agriculture was reduced from 2.38 per cent of the total Budget last year to 2.36 per cent this time,” said AIKSCC President VM Singh.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi says in Bengaluru that ‘TOP’ (tomatoes, onions and potatoes) is the priority for his government, but sets aside ₹200 crore for market intervention schemes, which is ₹700 crore lower than ₹900 crore allocated last year,” Singh said.
Yogendra Yadav, political scientist and convenor of Jai Kisan Andolan, said: “While Jaitley opened his mouth on MSP, he hasn’t loosened the purse strings.”
“If the government was serious about providing 1.5 times of the cost of cultivation as it had said in its 2014 election manifesto, it should have set aside an additional ₹33,280 crore for procurement,” Yadav said. The new MSP scheme announced by the government will help save a presumptive sum of ₹9,454 crore at procurement quantity levels of the previous year, as the MSP of rabi wheat would have come down from the current ₹1,625 to ₹1,195 a quintal. That would probably not happen as slashing wheat MSP price could be a political hara-kiri for the government, an AIKSCC member said.
Paltry fund transfer
Raju Shetti, Lok Sabha member and farm leader from Maharashtra, said even though the Maharastra government announced a debt waiver of ₹34,000 crore and said that the funds have been transferred to the banks, the banks are still sending reminders to farmers on outstanding loans.
Hannan Mollah, All India Kisan Sabha general secretary, said allocation for many agriculture-related schemes actually contracted in the Budget even while the government is “tom-toming” it as a Budget that gives reprieve to Indian farmers who are in distress. “If it was so concerned about farmers, why didn’t it think about their problems all these years, asked Mollah pointing out that the promises of the government were hollow.
While the Budget talks of increasing agricultural produce exports from India to $100 billion, in reality the exports have been coming down in the recent years, said Ashish Mittal, Secretary General of All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha and a working group member of AIKSCC.