BJP woos farmers, traders

Wooing disgruntled farmers, the BJP on Monday promised pension for small and marginal farmers as well as extending the Rs 6,000 financial support to all farmers but there was no mention about its future plans on minimum support price. PTI file photo

Wooing disgruntled farmers, the BJP on Monday promised pension for small and marginal farmers as well as extending the Rs 6,000 financial support to all farmers but there was no mention about its future plans on minimum support price.

A similar pension scheme for small shopkeepers is also being promised by enlarging the existing one for unorganised sector workers.

The BJP manifesto, which was released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior BJP leaders, also promised interest-free credit card loans to farmers besides a commitment of Rs 25 lakh crore investment in the agri-rural sector to improve the productivity of the farm sector.

Emphasising its promise of doubling farmers' income by 2022 made earlier, the manifesto said that the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, which presently covers only farmers owing land up to two hectares only, will be extended to all farmers enabling them to get Rs 6,000 per year. The scheme for small farmers was announced in the budget in February.

To woo farmers who are facing distress, it also promised to launch a pension scheme for all small and marginal farmers so as to ensure security to them on reaching 60 years of age. The 2014 manifesto had promised that the government would put in place welfare measures for farmers above 60 years in age, small and marginal farmers and farm labourers.

 

Through the interest-free Kisan Credit Card loans, it said, the BJP will provide short-term new agriculture loans up to Rs one lakh at a 0% interest rate for 1-5 years on the condition of repayment of principal amount. Easing the pressure on farmers, it also promised that the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana will be made voluntary.
 

While there has been a demand for enhanced minimum support price, the manifesto was silent on the issue thought it spoke about building a warehouse network across the country. It also said it will promote chemical-free organic farming in an additional 20 lakh hectare of hilly, tribal and rain-fed areas in the next five years.
 

It will also launch a dedicated e-commerce portal to enhance the availability of organic produce to the doorsteps of consumers. "Goshalas (cow shelters) in the country will be linked to the promotion of organic farming," the manifesto said adding it will also launch a National Bee-Keeping and Honey Mission to ensure additional returns to the farmers.

For traders, which constitute BJP's core constituency, the manifesto promised setting up of a National Traders’ Welfare Board and create a National Policy for Retail Trade for the growth of the retail business.
 

"To protect the interests of small traders, we will provide accident insurance of Rs 10 lakh to all the traders registered under GST. On the lines of Kisan credit card, we will also create a scheme to give a merchant credit card to registered merchants," it added. 
 

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