Union Budget is ‘cotton candy’ for farmers: HDK

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. DH file photo

Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy on Friday slammed the Union Budget as “disappointing” and said the Centre had handed out “cotton candy” to farmers.

Particularly, Kumaraswamy delved into the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN). Under this programme, vulnerable landholding farmer families, having cultivable land up to 2 hectares, will get direct income support Rs 6,000 per year. The total outlay for this is Rs 75,000 crore - with Rs 20,000 crore earmarked in the revised estimates for 2018-19 - and about 12 crore farmers are expected to be covered.

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“My calculation says that this will cover about 59 lakh farmers in Karnataka who will totally get Rs 3,528 crore. But our crop loan waiver scheme itself reaches 44 lakh farmers at a cost of over Rs 48,000 crore. The prime minister said our loan waiver was a lollipop. What should we call this scheme? Cotton candy, I guess,” Kumaraswamy told reporters.

Kumaraswamy also pointed out that Karnataka’s expenditure on farmers’ subsidy was significantly higher. “Since 2008, we’re giving free power for farmers’ borewells up to 10 horsepower in the form of subsidy. The amount is increasing every year. Under our government, the power subsidy for farmers is Rs 11,000 crore. Plus, for milk growers, we’re giving Rs 1,500 crore at Rs 5 per litre,” he said.

The CM also noted that the Union Budget made no mention of the suburban rail project for Bengaluru. “They (Centre) pressurized me. They said if I cleared it and sent the proposal, they’d take a decision in the budget. But nothing was there,” he said.

“We hoped, at least, that the budget will have something to make people happy with elections coming up. But everybody is disappointed,” Kumaraswamy said.

Kumaraswamy’s predecessor, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah, claimed that the PM-KISAN was copied from a scheme he had announced in the 2018-19 budget he presented in February last year.

“The PM-KISAN announcement is a half-copy of the Raitha Belaku scheme I had announced,” Siddaramaiah said in a tweet. Siddaramaiah had earmarked Rs 3,000 crore for Raitha Belaku, under which about 70 lakh dryland farmers would get Rs 5,000 per hectare and a maximum of Rs 10,000 directly transferred to their bank accounts.

“As per the PM-KISAN programme, farmers with less than 2 hectares of land will get Rs 6,000 every year in three installments. This means it is Rs 3,000 per hectare (sic). In our scheme, it was Rs 5,000 per hectare,” Siddaramaiah said.

The former CM also had a problem with the PM-KISAN in that it “failed” to distinguish between farmers whose land was irrigated and those whose land was not. “Won’t there be a difference in the income of these two types of farmers,” he asked.

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Union Budget is ‘cotton candy’ for farmers: HDK

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