Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday made the mother of all poll promises by borrowing from the gareebi hatao template his grandmother late PM Indira Gandhi had coined in the early 70s.
The Congress feels its minimum income guarantee scheme will prove to be the electoral golden bullet. With the poll season almost here, it has created a “Congress promised sop” vs PM Modi’s “delivered sop” clash.
Away from the noise and din over headline occupying issues like national security, the Modi government has created a record of sorts by implementing the PM Kisan Samman Yojana announced in the Union Budget.
How quick the government has been is indicated by the fact that the scheme was announced on February 1.
Over the next few weeks before the first vote is cast, the NDA government will start depositing the first tranche of the Rs 6,000 per annum that was promised in the scheme.
The first payout is of Rs 2,000 to each small and marginal farmer identified by the government.
The most crucial element of the scheme’s rollout is the number of beneficiary farmers in the most critical Indian state of Uttar Pradesh with 80 Lok Sabha seats.
Top sources in the finance ministry have indicated the UP government acted with great alacrity. Sources say that in a state where the BJP has to do well to return to power in Delhi, the verification process for a whopping over 1 crore farmers is complete.
UP will be biggest scheme beneficiary
This means within the next 10 days, more than a crore poor farming families will receive the first tranche of Rs 2,000 from the Modi government. There will be no hitch as far as poll code is concerned since the EC has deemed the payout does not violate rules.
Who gets the credit for the cash transfer? The answer is the NDA as unlike all other schemes (like Ayushman Bharat where the states share the cost) in the past where the Modi government deliberately didn’t share the payout burden with states.
Since the scheme is completely funded by the Centre, the BJP is all set to reap the credit for the first of its kind assistance to farmers.
How many farmers will get Rs 2000 in their accounts?
Things are moving fast in the agriculture ministry to ensure that the first tranche is disbursed to all those promised before the last vote is cast. The ministry has been dealing with some staggering statistics.
- Government sources say currently 4.9 crore cases or farmers are in the pipeline.
- Of the details of 4.02 crore farmers that have been sent to the Comptroller general of Accounts, bank account details of 3.2 crore farmers have been verified.
- Payment has been cleared for 2.9 crore farmers.
- Over one crore of these are in Uttar Pradesh.
The Centre was quick to fix the mechanism to process and pay farmers the amount directly to their accounts.
The states are supposed to recommend the names of farmers who fall in the small and marginal category to the agriculture ministry, which carries out its own verification process through agencies like NABARD and others to ensure only genuine cases get the benefit.
The agriculture ministry sends out the verified names to the Comptroller General of Accounts (CGA) that then sends the list to the Public Finance Management System.
Once the verification of farmers’ accounts is completed, the list returns to the agriculture ministry to release payments to the accounts of targeted beneficiaries.
Politics over the scheme
Since the scheme is funded by the Centre and the first set of payments will likely remind voters of the BJP, the response from BJP and NDA ruled states has been phenomenal.
However, opposition ruled states are wary. Their farmers may end up getting a delayed payment of what parties like Congress have described as a “pittance”.
But right now they are reluctant to send out a list of farmers. That’s why the number of beneficiaries under verification from Karnataka, Odisha, West Bengal and other states has been very low.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today challenged Rahul Gandhi’s “pro-poor welfarist move” by asking ” If the Congress Party and its friends have so much concern for the poor in India, why is it that its states are going slow in certifying the list of small and marginal farmers who are entitled to receiving the instalment of PM KISAN? Why are some of the states such as West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi, amongst others, not implementing the Ayushman Bharat? What is the fault of their poor farmers that they want to pay them?”