‘Rs 6,000 Per Year is Just an Election Ploy’: Mandsaur Farmers

‘Rs 6,000 Per Year is Just an Election Ploy’: Mandsaur Farmers

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What do the farmers in Mandsaur want? Farm loan waivers? A basic annual income? Or that they be paid the right minimum support price (MSP) for their produce? The Quint’s ‘Chaupal’ reached Mandsaur to find out the answers to these questions.

Some claimed that the announcement of Rs 6,000 per month by the Modi government in the interim Budget 2019 as an annual help to the farmers is just an election ploy.

“Rs 6,000 scheme is just an election ploy. Even you know that Rs 6,000 isn’t enough.”
A farmer
“This is not a very big amount so it will not yield much benefit. In a way, this help will be Rs 17/day for a family. In today’s time, what can you get in Rs 17?”
Sohanlal Dhaka, Farmer

Also Read : ‘Bhavantar Nahi, Bhav’: Mandsaur Farmers’ Plea for ‘Right Prices’

Others said while the amount is small, providing an annual help will support the small farmers.

“I think it’s a good move to provide a guaranteed income to the farmers. Small time farmers who don’t have enough money to purchase seeds, fertilisers or pesticides will benefit in near future.”
Durgalal Dhakad, Farmer

Farm loan waiver was also a key topic of discussion among the farmers in Mandsaur. It was one of the most important campaign promises made by Congress President Rahul Gandhi during the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls.

The announcement of farm loan waiver of upto Rs 2 lakh was made by new Chief Minister Kamal Nath days after assuming office. But has the order been implemented?

“Right now, the process is underway. We are visiting societies and banks. There is too much hassle and farmers are ultimately suffering. They (banks and administration) should come together to smoothen the process and deliver on the farm loan waiver.”
A farmer

Also Read : BJP government insulted farmers: Congress on Mandsaur firing report

However, a few farmers hailed the loan waiver move and dismissed Modi government’s announcement of Rs 6,000 as annual help.

“The farmer has obviously benefited from the Rs 2 lakh farm loan waiver provided to them. On the contrary, Modi govt promised Rs 6,000 for farmers. What can we do with Rs 6,000? They have raised this topic because elections are approaching. The process for what the Congress had promised has started. Directly no one can waive farm loans. It takes time. Even when you cultivate crops, it takes time.”
A farmer

But a significant number of farmers, however, felt that instead of an annual help or farm loan waiver, purchasing their produce at the decided MSP will be of much more help to them.

Our produce likes Soyabean, corn, garlic etc should be paid at MSP. Neither farm loan waiver, nor Rs 6,000 is a solution. We demand the rightful payment of our crops.
A farmer

Farmers also said merely increasing the MSP will not be enough. The government has to ensure that the farmers actually receive the money.

Even if the government increases the MSP, they need to ensure that the crops are bought at MSP. Otherwise, increasing MSP makes no difference. For example, MSP for urad is Rs 5,450 (per quintal) but it isn’t actually bought at Rs 5,450. Wheat, grams, mustard etc are sold at much lesser price in the market.  
A farmer

Also Read : Mandsaur Firing: Probe Panel Gives Clean Chit to MP Cops, CRPF 

Have Things Changed After the Protests of 2017?

On 6 June 2017, Mandsaur a small town in Madhya Pradesh became the centre of agrarian distress when six farmers were killed in alleged firing by the Madhya Pradesh police. But has anything changed since then?

“No major change has been noticed. If the government would have taken note and done something for the benefit of farmers, their situation would have improved. But nothing happened.”
A farmer

Many poll pundits believe that it was the farmer’s distress that cost the BJP the election in the ‘Hindi heartland’ of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in 2018. With the 2019 Lok Sabha election months away, the Modi government’s announcement of annual basic income of Rs 6,000 under Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi appears to be a tough sell in Mandsaur.

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