BJD banks heavily on KALIA to win polls

The Patnaik administration had announced the scheme a couple of months back to counter the clamour for farmers' loan waiver by the Opposition parties in the state, particularly, the Congress and the BJP.

The ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Odisha is banking heavily on Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation (KALIA), the scheme introduced by the state government for the benefit of the farmers, to win the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

That the regional outfit is determined to make it a major poll plank is clearly evident from the manner in which Patnaik is visiting the districts to launch the scheme personally.

"The KALIA scheme is much better than the PM-KISAN scheme introduced by the central government. Our scheme has shown the way to the entire country so far as farmers' welfare is concerned," the four-time chief minister, who will be seeking a record fifth term in office, has been saying while addressing public gatherings after the launch of the scheme.

The Patnaik administration had announced the scheme a couple of months back to counter the clamour for farmers' loan waiver by the Opposition parties in the state, particularly, the Congress and the BJP.

As per the scheme, the small, marginal and landless farmers across the state will be provided Rs 10,000 each every year for two crops — Rs 5,000 for kharif and Rs 5,000 for Rabi.

Earlier, the plan was to provide the benefit to 35 lakh farmers across the state. However, encouraged by the response from the districts, the state government decided to increase the number to 45 lakh.

"The decision to increase the number of beneficiaries has already got the nod of the cabinet," said an official in the agriculture department.

In fact, money, as part of the first installment of the scheme, has already been sent directly to the bank accounts of more than 30 lakh farmers in phases. The rest of the farmers will be covered by the end of April.

The BJD leadership feel that the scheme could prove to be a game-changer for the party to garner maximum rural voters. The party cadres have therefore been instructed to compare the scheme to the Centre's scheme while campaigning.

"The state government is providing Rs 10,000 to every farmer, while the Union government is giving just Rs 6,000. The party leaders and workers have been asked to harp on this point," a senior BJD leader said.

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