BJP banks on farmer power ahead of UP Assembly polls

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Considering the fact that high density of farmers’ population will play pivotal role in the upcoming UP Assembly polls, the BJP and the government are leaving no stone unturned to woo farmers.

While the party has organised a big meeting in Greater Noida where over 200 representatives of farmers groups will congregate, the Narendra Modi government is all set to roll out the ambitious crop insurance scheme for welfare of farmers.

About 60 per cent of the voters in UP are farmers and this holds a great significance for the BJP which does not want a repeat of the Bihar debacle. Only this week, the Centre approved a financial assistance to drought-hit UP of around Rs 1,304.5 crore, Rs 753.3 crore less than the amount demanded by the state. The state had demanded an assistance of Rs 2,057 crore for drought relief. Last year, UP sought over Rs 4,000 crore as drought relief, but got only Rs 490 crore.

Nawab Singh Nagar, former minister of UP Cabinet and vice-president of Kisan Morcha of the BJP, said various issues concerned with the welfare of farmers will be raised in the meeting on January 11 and 12, which will be attended by many senior BJP leaders. Party chief Amit Shah will attend the meeting and there will be discussion with farmers’ groups on serious issues. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has also agreed to come, said Nagar.

Apart from this, the crop insurance scheme and minimum prices of the crops will also be discussed to provide relief to the farmers who incur heavy losses every year due to reasons like heavy rains and drought. The Modi government is all set to roll out a new Crop Insurance Scheme through which it aims to bring down the rate of premium to be paid by farmers to a maximum of 2.5 per cent of the sum insured. The remainder will be paid by the government. Currently, farmers have to pay premium ranging from 4 to 15 per cent to insure crops.

According to an agriculture ministry official, this is a significant move to address the distress plaguing the country’s agriculture sector and farmers and it will probably be launched on January 14, on the occasion of Makarsankranti and will be implemented by the start of the new financial year 2016-17 from April 1.

A meeting was held this week and the PM stepped in to sort out a dispute over the premium to be charged from farmers under the crop insurance scheme at a meeting he held with ministerial colleagues. By lowering premiums substantially, the government is banking on increasing the coverage of farmers from the existing 23 per cent to 50 per cent in the next two to three years.

Besides lowering the premium rate, the proposed crop insurance scheme aims to settle insurance claims faster by assessing the crop damage using modern technologies like remote sensor.

A senior BJP leader said that the delegates will be conveyed the message that the present government is committed to the prosperity of farmers in the country and they will also be told about major initiatives of the Centre for the welfare of the farmers.

Recently, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh requested the UP government to speed up the Soil Health Card Scheme, urging the CM to monitor the programme at the highest level so that it can get the deserved priority. The government has been paying a lot of emphasis on improving the health of soil by integrated nutrient management. The government has also announced a programme of collection of soil samples, analysis and issue of Soil Health Card in a time-bound manner.

“A request was made to the UP government for increasing the target of issue of Soil Health Card in 2015-16 from 15.90 lakh to 18 lakh. Similarly, for 2016-17 UP’s target was increased from 15.90 lakh to 29.70 lakh,” said an official.

A fertile ground
Over 200 representatives of farmers’ groups will congregate in the NCR city which has been a conflict zone in the past. 
About 60 per cent of the voters in UP are farmers and this holds a great significance for the BJP which is leaving no stone unturned for the UP polls. 
Centre approved a financial assistance to drought-hit UP of around Rs 1,304.5 crore, Rs 753.3 crore less than the amount demanded by the state.
The state had demanded an assistance of Rs 2,057 crore for drought relief. 
BJP is also embarking on a massive image building exercise in UP with visits by 17 ministers of the Narendra Modi government to 23 Lok Sabha constituencies this month.

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