Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set his eyes on Karnataka. Yesterday, he launched the BJP's election campaign with three back-to-back rallies in the southern state. Today, the Prime Minister reached out to what many believe the most exploited yet effective electorate - the farmer. Agricultural workers constitute 56 per cent of the total workforce in the state and have the ability to swing the polls either way.
In an interaction that lasted over half-an-hour on the NaMo app, the Prime Minister talked about various central schemes, Congress' failure and why the people of Karnataka needed to elect a better government. He said: "The Congress Government in Karnataka has completely ignored the state's agriculture sector. They have been insensitive towards the aspirations of the farmers. The farmers of Karnataka deserve better."
He alleged that due to the apathy of the Congress government farmers in Karnataka could not benefit from the Fasal Bima Yojana. In Karnataka, 56 per cent people are dependent - directly or indirectly - on farming.
Modi's statement came a day after Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in a series of tweets said that the Central government has forsaken the poor. He had said: "Banks write off 2.71 lakh crore corp loans, but farmers get only speeches. MSP for farmers not increased, but they get promise of doubling income by 2022."
Today, the Prime Minister addressed the issue of doubling the farmers income and said that this year's budget had several farmer-friendly measures that would facilitate value addition and strengthen the supply chain. He also advised the farmers to take up micro-irrigation and adopt latest farming methods to increase the production, therefore income.
On minimum support price or MSP, Modi reiterated that farmers would get 1.5 times the cost of their production. In this year's budget, the government had decided to keep minimum support price for all crops at least at one and half times of their production cost.
In today's interaction, the Prime Minister highlighted how this year's budget was centred at welfare of farmers and the agriculture sector. He spoke at length about the Farmer Producer Organisation, Fasal Bima Yojana, Kisan Credit Cards, Kisan Sampada Yojana to strengthen the supply chain and Operation Greens announced in this year's Budget.
PM Modi will again hold talks with Karnataka's Mahila Morcha members on Friday. Karnataka is going to polls on May 12, and the Prime Minister is expected to address 12 rallies in different parts of the southern state. In his first rally on Tuesday, the Prime Minister dared Congress President Rahul Gandhi to show the achievements of his government in last five years in Karnataka.
He said: "I challenge you (Rahul Gandhi) to speak for 15 minutes on the achievements of your government in Karnataka without reading from any piece of paper. You can speak in Hindi, English or your mother tongue."
Agricultural crisis is one of the biggest worries for the BJP. Farmers in Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra have staged multiple protests against the Centre and states. Earlier this year, around 30,000 farmers from across Maharashtra marched over 180 km to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Their demands included unconditional waiver of loans, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations and MSP for agriculture produce.