While several experts have hailed the Narendra Modi-led government's budget as populist, Yogendra Yadav is not happy with its treatment of farmers' issues. Incidentally, Yadav and his party had submitted a special krishi budget with a list of 15 demands that could help resolve the issues faced by farmers' in the country. But the Union Budget 2017 met none of those demands, and that seems to have irked Yadav and his party members.
The leader of the political party Swaraj Abhiyan criticised finance minister Arun Jaitley for not meeting the expectations of the farmers, stating that the budget was supposed to mitigate the pains caused by demonetisation, but it failed to do so.
Taking a jibe at the Narendra-Modi government, Yadav said, "It is a tradition followed by the Government of India to initiate measures to compensate the farmers hit by natural calamities. But there was no support extended to the farmers who suffered due to fund crunch caused by demonetisation even though demonetisation was a calamity caused by the government itself.” He was speaking at a gathering of farmers in a meeting named "Krishak Sansad" at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Wednesday.
Yadav also criticised the prime minister stating how Modi had said that demonetisation would bear good results in the long term, thus raising dreams among the farmers that long-term issues related to their income, cost of production, natural calamities and loans would be dealt with in the budget.
"It was expected that a minimum income would be guaranteed to them by a special law. The cultivators across the country also expected subsidies in the cost of production along with better compensation policy for farmers hit by natural calamities and loans,” he maintained.
However, according to Yadav, the budget did not do anything about these issues. Yadav also criticised the finance minister for offering no roadmap to achieve the target of doubling the farmer’s income that Jaitley reiterated in the budget.
He also lamented that no steps were taken to increase the minimum support price or to guarantee farmer’s income in the budget at a time when nearly 12,000 farmers are committing suicide every year. He also said that the finance minister remained silent on a subsidy on seeds, manure, water and electricity.
Taking on the government on the issue of crop insurance, Yadav said that though the finance minister spoke about the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, the reach of this scheme has been dismal.
"The government declared last year that the 30 percent of the farmers in the country would be covered by this insurance scheme in the first year of its implementation and would cover 50 percent of them in the third year,” he reminded.
"But after the passage of a year, it is seen that farmers covered by this insurance have increased only by 3 percentage points. Only 24 percent of the farmers are covered in the first year of its implementation," he said adding that the insurance companies have turned out to be major benefactors of this scheme meant for the farmers.
Quoting the finance minister, he said, "In his speech, it was said that Rs 12,000 crores have been spent in insurance whereas only Rs 5,500 crores were allocated for the purpose.”
"Since the number of insurance claimants has not increased notably, the phenomenal increase in expenditure can safely be assumed as an outcome of profiteering of the insurance companies,” he added.
He also said that the budget proposed neither to ensure that loans meant for farmers reach the poorest and needy ones nor to decrease the loan burden on them by any means of waivers.
Yadav also mentioned that the proposal of allocating Rs 10 lakh crores for agricultural loans is a routine one. "Last year this allocation was already Rs 9.5 lakh crores. Moreover, this money is not going to be paid by the government, but by the banks."
Earlier in the day, the Swaraj Abhiyan had demanded a series of reforms in the agriculture sector by presenting a "krishi budget" consisting of demands like guaranteeing a minimum income for farmers by way of constituting a National Farmer Income Commission to ensure that each family of cultivators earn it.
The "krishi budget" also demanded a novel scheme to ensure that the minimum support price is fixed 50 percent above the cost of production as advised by the MS Swaminathan Commission apart from initiating a market intervention scheme for the kind of agricultural produce which do not fall in the minimum support price scheme.
The "krishi budget" included 15 demands, which Yadav said were handed over to the government prior to the ongoing session of the Parliament.
Updated Date: Feb 01, 2017 20:55 PM