Farmer’s Distress could cost a significant amount of Votes to BJP in upcoming assembly elections in Rajasthan

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The incumbent BJP in Rajasthan is facing a lot of ire from the people over various issues, one of them being the apathy of Government towards the poor farmers. Farmers are unhappy with the lack of enough government support which could impact the vote share of BJP in the state and make it difficult for it to return to power. Farmers in Rajasthan have been disappointed with the state government over the execution of their policies and unfulfilled promises.

Despite the Raje Government’s tall claims to help the farmers, nothing seems to be of help on the ground level. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had announced in June this year to waive off farm loan worth Rs 8,500 crore, writing off loans up to Rs 50,000 for small and marginal farmers. However, the government struggled to arrange the money as the NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) refused to give credit for farm loan waiver.

The farmers are also not so content with just the waiver. They want the government to implement Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations by calculating the Minimum Support Price (MSP) that includes the cost of production from the farm to the market and the presumed cost of land. The farmers are also demanding to lower the cost of inputs such as water, fertilizer and power. According to certain reports, the farmers are upset over the execution of the Centre’s proposal to hike MSP.

The last data on farmer’s suicide was revealed in 2016 which suggested that 80 percent of farmers killed themselves in 2015 owing to the bankruptcy or debts after taking loans from banks and registered microfinance institutions.

According to the reports, in 2015, Rajasthan came under in the category of ‘up to five farmer suicides in a year’. However, this number increased quickly in the last couple of years, especially in May 2018 when prices of the garlic crop crashed down drastically because of bumper produce and the farmers had to sell it for meager amounts. The Hadoti region comprises of Kota, Bundi, Baran and Jhalawar districts.

Even though Rajasthan State Co-operative Marketing Federation Ltd’s (RAJFED) market intervention scheme is in place for such circumstances, it didn’t seem to help.

The opposition party- Congress has also  slammed the ruling BJP for “turning a blind eye towards farmer suicides and not even acknowledging them”. However the ruling BJP said that the suicides were not because of debt.

This disillusionment could cost the BJP a significant amount of voters in the upcoming assembly elections. In the bypolls that happened in Rajasthan immediately after the Gujarat assembly elections, the Congress won all the three seats of Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha seats, and the Mandalgarh assembly seat.

This was a sign that the rural voter base was shifting from the ruling BJP to the Congress.

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