When Piyush Goyal presented the Interim Budget in Parliament on 1 February, he had announced the Kisan Samman Nidhi, under which the government had proposed to give Rs 6,000 per annum to farmers who own less than five acres. Many believed this was a political master stroke by the Modi government in the fag end of its current tenure.
However, there was also scepticism about whether it would yield the desired electoral dividends, particularly in view of the Congress' NYAY scheme, which proposes to give Rs 6,000 a month, Rs 72,000 a year and Rs 3.60 lakh in five years to five crore poor families. On the face of it, the Grand Old Party's scheme appeared to be far more lucrative, far more populist and far more beneficial from the political perspective, with a better chance of having voters' preference. It was hailed to be a game changer.
With voting in five phases of the Lok Sabha election completed, this writer, after extensive travel across the politically critical state of Uttar Pradesh, found that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheme for farmers and its two installments of Rs 4,000 — already credited to the accounts of over one crore people — is proving to be the real game changer. There are hardly any takers for the Congress' "Ab Hoga Nyay" campaign phrase, which has simply not registered in voters' minds, at least in this part of the country. People have either not heard the party's promise for 'nyay' or are not willing to give it any credence.
By travelling to Uttar Pradesh's rural areas, one can get a sense that the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna has had a bigger impact on voters than any of the schemes the Modi government launched and delivered in the past five years. It was not difficult to assess why this scheme resonated the most in the minds of the rural people. For one, it came with other developmental deliverables initiated since 2014. By the time the first and second installments of Rs 2,000 each were credited to farmers' Jan Dhan accounts, a large section of people had already started believing in the prime minister's sincerity and ability to deliver. It meant a great deal to farmers, more so among the poorer farmers. Also, it was this money that the Congress had earlier described as bribes that reached their accounts in the run-up to the polls. It's all fresh on their minds.
Take Ramanand Pasi, for instance. A Dalit who lives near Pichhoda village in Amethi, he has turned into a hardcore Modi and BJP supporter. Listing out how he benefited from government schemes, he says got a pucca house, electricity connection and gas cylinder, but what made him really happy was the Rs 4,000 he got in his account.
Pasi's is not an isolated example. This reporter met several such people belonging to various castes from varied layers of the social strata in the rural areas of Bhagpat, Ghaziabad, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Kannauj, Amethi, Sultanpur, Barabanki, Prayagraj, Pratapgarh, Lucknow, Bhadohi, Phulpur, Jaunpur and Ghazipur.
In contrast, the Congress' Rs 72,000 per year NYAY promise has had two types of responses — ignorance or dismissal as a misleading mirage during the election. What goes against Rahul, the Congress and this perceived game-changer of a scheme is that not many believe the party and its leader have any realistic chance of forming the government.
What has made Modi's Kisan Samman Nidhi even more electorally promising in Uttar Pradesh is that the state government delivered it well, expanding the definition of a farmer to include even people who have a small piece of land, practically nothing beyond their small kuchha-pucca homes, in villages and taluks. Modi has also promised that the two hectare (five acre) ceiling will be removed in the annual Budget the NDA government presents after election. This promise, however, comes with a rider — if voted to power.
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Updated Date: May 08, 2019 15:56:02 IST