Congress today released its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections titled 'Congress will deliver'. Terming it as the voice of people, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that the manifesto focuses on farmer distress. Blaming the BJP government for ignoring India's farmers, Congress said that agriculture in India has been driven into deep crisis where MSP was denied to the farmers for 4 years, farmer debt has increased manifold, procurement of machinery is non-existent and the input prices have also increased.
Here're the key takeaways:
- As part of the poll promises, Congress party's manifesto said that it would put the farmers on the path from "Karz Maafi" to "Karz Mukti". This will be done through remunerative prices, lower input costs, and assured access to institutional credit.
- The manifesto has promised a separate "Kisan Budget" for the farmers every year. Congress president Rahul Gandhi said if farmers are unable to repay the loans, it will be treated as a civil offence and not a criminal offence. He said it will be a "historic step" in the welfare of farmers. "Under our government, farmers who cannot pay back loans, it will no more be a criminal offence", Rahul Gandhi said.
- Citing the example of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where Congress is in power, Congress manifesto reads that the government there waived the loans of farmers and would do the same for other States as well. Calling debt a civil liability, Congress' manifesto stated that the party will not allow criminal proceedings to be instituted against a farmer who is unable to pay his/her debt.
- In its manifesto, Congress promised to establish a permanent National Commission on Agricultural Development and Planning consisting of farmers, agricultural scientists and agricultural economists to examine and advise the government on how to make agriculture viable, competitive and remunerative. As per the manifesto, the recommendations of the Commission shall be binding on the government. The Commission will subsume the existing Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices and recommend appropriate minimum support prices.
- Congress has also promised to re-design the BJP government's Fasal Bima Yojana (Crop Insurance Scheme). According to the Congress' manifesto, the BJP's crop insurance scheme has only enriched the insurance companies at the cost of the farmers.
- Congress said that if it comes to the power, it will work with the state Governments to digitise land ownership and land tenancy records and, in particular, recognise ownership and tenancy rights of women farmers and ensure women get the benefits of agriculture related schemes.
- Congress has promised to review the prices of agricultural inputs, extend subsidies where necessary, and establish facilities to hire farm machinery. It also said that the party will repeal the Agricultural Produce Market Committees Act and make trade in agricultural produce free from all restrictions. The manifesto also talked about establishing farmers market, formulating new policy on export and import of agricultural products.
- Congress promised to establish a Commission on Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labour to advise on policies and programmes that will help them earn income from higher wages and from non-crop based agriculture such as horticulture and floriculture, dairying and poultry.
- Congress promised to encourage farmers to diversify into the production of local varieties of millets and pulses that can be procured for the PDS, Mid-Day Meals Scheme and the ICDS programme.
- Congress manifesto said that it would set up programmes to promote horticulture, pisciculture and sericulture for diversification and greater income for farmers and would promote organic farming, encourage farmers to use mixed fertilizers and pesticides, support verification of organic products, and help them secure better prices for organic products.
- Congress also stated that it would double the funding in 5 years for teaching, R&D, agriculture-related pure sciences and applied science and technology in the agricultural sector.
- Congress has promised that the "distortions" that have crept into the text and the implementation of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and the Forest Rights Act, 2006 will be removed and the original purposes of the Acts will be restored and enforced.
Edited By: Udit Verma