Congress, BJP try to make hay as farmers weep in MP

The Congress has also kept its focus over the professional examination board scam which the government is trying to push under the carpet.

Chandrakant Naidu March 04, 2014 20:43:38 IST
Congress, BJP try to make hay as farmers weep in MP

Bhopal: Even as farmers in Madhya Pradesh run pillar to post seeking compensation for a bad farm year due to unseasonal rains, the Congress and BJP are trying their best to make the loudest political noise at the behest of the farming community. The ruling BJP has threatened to shut the state for half a day on 6 March unless the Centre releases Rs 5,000 crore to pay to the farmers affected by the recent hail-storm that damaged the crops in 49 out of the state’s 51 districts. The damage has been extensive in 18 districts. The Congress, however, sees it as just posturing to escape the farmers’ ire over the government’s failure to mitigate their misery.

Congress BJP try to make hay as farmers weep in MP

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. PTI

It can be pointed out that Congress is resorting to same tactics in the Assembly as the BJP did in Parliament. Reduced t0 a hopeless minority of 58 in a House 230 the Congress is trying to make up for the loss of numbers by raising the decibel level. It stalled the proceedings for the second day running on Tuesday in the three-day summer session. While the ruling BJP was keen to discuss the recent extensive damage to the wheat crop in the state the Opposition forced an abrupt adjournment through noisy scenes.

The Congress has also kept its focus over the professional examination board scam which the government is trying to push under the carpet. The needle of suspicion points to higher ups in the government, the ruling party and its parent organisation the RSS and that has forced the government to avoid CBI into matter. The treasury benches have avoided a discussion over the matter in the House. The Opposition has through some pointed questions extracted an admission from the ruling party about the involvement of the former higher education and culture minister Lakshmikant Sharma, who was once a close confidant of the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Sharma who lost the election has been named by the special task force of the state police but has not been arrested. Mysteriously the STF has not even charged the numerous accused in the case for corruption. The Congress claims the scam is worth Rs 2,000 cr and has deprived 80,000 eligible youths of jobs.

Earlier the ruling BJP was striving to pre-empt the Congress from turning the recent calamity on agricultural front into an election issue. But the Congress would not let go of the opportunity. The BJP therefore countered the Congress move by calling for half a day bandh in the state on 6 March.

With the general elections just over two months away Chouhan has been working overtime to comfort the farmers, who were earlier devastated by excess rain during the extended monsoon that hit the soybean crop and now by the recent hail storm. Last week’s rain and hail hit the farmers harder just when the state was preparing for a bumper crop. The Congress is calling the chief minister’s effort just a photo op. The observation is not wide of the mark as the state government’s PR department is dishing out everyday pictures of Chouhan sitting grim-faced with the farmers in one region or the other. Chouhan has capped the theatrics by lobbing the ball in the Centre’s court with an ultimatum to shut the state.

Just as a good monsoon can be a guarantee for good electoral harvest, two successive crop failures can cause immense worries to the ruling party. The BJP was lucky the winter harvest loss not as high and was felt after the elections. But the farmers are angry as the promised compensation package for the soybean crop losses has not been paid so far. There are reports of corruption in the disbursement of compensation which worries the BJP leaders. Even after the recent hail storm there are reports of corruption in the surveys to assess the damage.

Just a few weeks ago Madhya Pradesh received the national agricultural productivity award and the ruling party acquired all bragging rights. Now it is clamouring for Central assistance package of Rs 5,000 crore to pay the farmers. Of the supplementary budgetary demands for Rs 51,000 crore cleared by the Assembly the state government has earmarked Rs 2,000 crore for relief to the farmers.

While the Congress is bringing all negative factors to the fore the BJP accuses the opposition of fishing in troubled waters. Questions are being asked on Congress’ ground level efforts to help the farmers in such crisis? There is also an opinion that instead of just embarrassing the ruling party the Congress should help the state get the Central assistance and earn the farmers’ goodwill.

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