In poll season, farmers turn apple of politicians’ eye

With an eye on the upcoming Assembly polls, all three major political parties in the state are making a desperate bid to woo the farming community by talking big about addressing the agrarian crisis.

In the hope of gaining political mileage, all parties have, interestingly, assumed the ‘pro-farmer’ stance.

Over the last few months, the Congress, the BJP and the JD(S) have not only been accusing each other of ‘failure’ to resolve issues that are bothering farmers but are also making tall promises to resuscitate the sector, if voted to power.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi promised loan waiver and proper Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops if his party came to power. The BJP has said it would set aside Rs 1 lakh crore for irrigation projects.

BJP national president Amit Shah has promised the effective implementation of Centre-sponsored schemes like Pradhan Mantri Soil Health Card and Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana. The party has claimed that no farmer in Karnataka would commit suicide if it comes to power.

The JD(S), which continues to campaign on its pro-farmer plank, has made the biggest pro-farmer pitch so far. In a bid to steal a march on its opponents, JD(S) president and its chief ministerial face H D Kumaraswamy has claimed that he would waive farm loans worth Rs 54,000 crore within 24 hours of his party coming to power. He has also promised to adopt Israeli technologies to transform agriculture in the state. He even travelled to Israel to study its agricultural practices.  

Although the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government is riding high on its political ‘trump card’ — loan waiver of Rs 8,165 crore — and ‘Raitha Belaku’ scheme, a spate of farmers’ suicides in the last five years, has cast a shadow on the party’s electoral prospects.    

As many as 3,515 farmers ended their lives in Karnataka between April 2013 and November 2017, according to government data.

The BJP has blamed the Congress government’s ‘negligence’ for the suicides. Shah during his state tours also branded the Congress ‘anti-farmer’, ‘insensitive’ and ‘irresponsible’.

The Congress countered these charges by pointing fingers right back at the BJP. Both Rahul and Siddaramaiah accused the BJP at the Centre of favouring a few corporates over millions of farmers.

The saffron party, however, has remained mum on waiving farm loans in nationalised and scheduled banks. The party is also yet to recover from Yeddyurappa’s faux pas, who ‘failed to honour’ his commitment to resolving the Mahadayi issue.

After its appeasement politics boomeranged, the BJP got busy showcasing Yeddyurappa as ‘Raitha Bandhu’ and praising him for presenting a separate budget for agriculture.

The party also made Prime Minister Modi address a farmers’ rally in Davangere to mark Yeddyurappa’s 75th birthday. It also came up with a farmer outreach programme -- ‘Mushti Dhaanya Abhiyaan’ to show its solidarity with the farming community.

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In poll season, farmers turn apple of politicians’ eye

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