Exclusive: Yogendra Yadav's Swaraj Abhiyan to present Kisan Budget ahead of Arun Jaitley's big day

In a bid to draw the attention of the government to the condition of farmers in the country and to bring about some improvement in the agricultural sector, Yogendra Yadav and his Jai Kisan Andolan — a part of Swaraj Abhiyan — will present an alternative budget called ‘Kisan Budget’ on 30 January, two days ahead of the Union Budget, which is on 1 February.

The ‘Kisan Budget’ or ‘Agriculture Budget’, a first-of-its-kind effort will be announced at the ‘Kisan Sansad’ — a public platform in the presence of farmers from various states — in an attempt to act as a pressure group on issues like agricultural policy, farmers’ income, minimum support price, and to mitigate the effects of demonetisation. On the day of the Union budget — while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivers his speech in Parliament, the Kisan Sansad will simultaneously analyse the announcements made on farm and allied sectors by gathering at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. A concept note based on the group's recommendations will be submitted to the government.   

File image of Yogendra Yadav. PTI

File image of Yogendra Yadav. PTI

"If industry bodies like CII can discuss and analyse a budget, while the finance minister makes his presentation, why can’t farmers sit together and do the same? We’ll be doing the same on Budget day — analysing the Union Budget with agricultural experts and farmers, and simultaneously respond to it,” Yogendra Yadav, president of newly-formed political party Swaraj India told Firstpost.

The Kisan Budget, which was taken up for the first time in 2016 as a pilot by Jai Kisan Andolan, is expected to push issues like minimum income guarantee for the farmers, rationalisation of minimum support price (MSP), compensation to famers against natural calamities and nonetheless mitigating the impact of demonetisation on the farm sector.   

“Government surveys show that average family income of a farmer is Rs 2,400 per month, which is incredible. How can a family survive on such a low income? It’s the lowest one can even imagine. The government must legislate a minimum income guarantee act. A farmer should be guaranteed a minimum income of Rs 18,000 per month,” Avik Saha, co-convener, Jai Kisan Andolan told Firstpost.

Jai Kisan Andolan is a public movement for farmers’ rights in India, undertaken by the Yadav and Prashant Bhushan-led Swaraj Abhiyan. It aims at highlighting the plight of farmers due to lapses in public policies related to agriculture.

“We don’t advocate loan waivers, but want the government to give sufficient weightage to MSP, so that farmers can benefit. Another issue is related to compensation to farmers, who are the victims of natural calamities. The government has to ensure implementation of a proper calamity support policy, so that a farmer can come out of an adverse situation successfully,” added Saha, who is also the national vice-president of Swaraj Abhiyan.    

Undoubtedly, the issue of demonestisation will be an overpowering factor in the upcoming Budget and virtually no sector can remain insulated from it. Same is with the Kisan budget, where effects of demonetization will be a talking point.     

“We wholeheartedly supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the demonetisation issue, but its execution has been very poor. Farmers and vendors dealing with vegetables, fruit and perishable items bore the brunt of it. After two years, the farmers had a good harvest but due to the cash-crunch, they were unable to reap the benefits. The Kisan Budget will discuss these issues,” added Yadav, also a noted psephologist, alongside being a political analyst and convener of Jai Kisan Andolan.   

Through this alternative farmers’ budget, Yadav and his team have planned to build public opinion and pressure as a probable remedy for farmers’ woes.

“The Budget is a proposal that is debated in Parliament before its passage. We’ll send our observations and reactions to the government, so that they can bring necessary amendments post-Budget,” a Swaraj Abhiyan member said.


Updated Date: Jan 24, 2017 08:10 AM

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