Ground Report: ‘It Is Not Fasal Bima Yojna; It Is Pradhan Mantri Fasao Yojna’: Miffed Rajkot Farmers Ready To Teach BJP A Lesson
It is noteworthy that every farmer points fingers at the nexus between the Modi government and businessmen like Anil Ambani.
Dilip Saipariya — peanuts and cotton farmer — has written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking permission to commit suicide on April 11. He has not received the insurance amount after his crop failed due to drought. Like Saipariya, 35 other farmers in Rajkot have also reached out to the President. A total of 1.5 million farmers in the Saurashtra region are demanding payments.
“We are not begging. This is our right. Both big businessmen and government have joined hands to kill our farm economy,” Saipariya says. “How can we survive in such a manner? Isn’t it better to just die?” he asks. Saipariya had insured 10 acre of land where he grows cotton and groundnut.
In October 2018, the Gujarat government had declared two out of the 14 tehsils in Rajkot as moderately drought affected. The farmers of Vichiya tehsil have not received any insurance amount, while farmers of Padadhri tehsil have received a small amount which is not sufficient, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (affiliated to the RSS) president, Dilip Sakhia says.
It is noteworthy that every farmer points fingers at the nexus between the Modi government and businessmen like Anil Ambani. Sakhia informs that Ambani’s firm Reliance General Insurance had covered the villages in Rajkot.
Now, the farmers allege that only Ambani has benefited from the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna and the government simply used the farmers. Several insurance companies reportedly collected Rs 2,360 crore as premium for the entire state in 2016. However, claims worth Rs 954 crore were only settled. Local Congress leaders point out that the scheme was a scam and the farmers are aware of it.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, the Congress party won all the three rural seats – Tankara, Wankaner and Jasdan – in Rajkot, while the four urban seats — Rajkot-West, Rajkot-East, Rajkot-South and Rajkot-Rural — went to the BJP. In total, the Congress bagged 30 of the 54 seats in the Saurashtra-Kutch region.
The results of the Assembly polls and increasing unrest among farmers prove why the BJP looks nervous in Gujarat. “It is true that the farmers are not happy with our government in both the Centre and state. But we are making every attempt to reach out to them. Our local leaders and panchayat members are meeting farmers in every village,” senior leader Shamjibhai Chauhan says. He has rejoined the BJP after leaving the Congress for being denied a ticket.
Gujarat Congress leaders hope to win four out of the eight seats — Kutch (reserved for the Scheduled Castes), Rajkot, Surendranagar, Amreli, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Porbandar — in Saurashtra region.
Pro-Modi Media vs. Farmers
“The media is bikau (sold out). They never show the sad state of farmers. They never show anything critical of Modi,” Chaturbhai Moliya, a Kherdi village resident, says.
The villagers point out that the media hypes every statement made by the prime minister and doesn’t care to show the reality. Further, they underline that in the last five years their suffering has multiplied — fertilisers became expensive, production costs have exceeded, and selling price of their products have gone down — and the government has taken them from granted.
“It is not Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna, it is Pradhan Mantri Fasao Yojna (prime minister duping scheme). Where is our money?” another farmer Chandu Khambara, says. He managed to sell 20 kg cotton for Rs 800 which is not even one-third of his input cost, he adds.
Water Scheme That Never Took Off
“As a chief minister, Modi had launched SAUNI Yojana in 2012. But, they never had the intent to complete the scheme and solve the water problems,” Congress MLA Brijesh Amarshibhai Merja quips. The SAUNI Scheme (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) was announced to connect Narmada water to several dams of the Saurashtra region like Morsal dam and Triveni Thanga dam through small canals. The farmers are yet to see the government implement the scheme in a proper fashion.
Further, the drought in the last three years also added to their woes. “They have inaugurated some schemes. We just know that much, but we don’t get water. Sometimes, we don’t get water even for weeks,” Hansa Piparia, a resident of Pipaliya village says.
The farmers lament that their political representatives are not willing to help them to install check dams in their farms with which they could conserve rainwater and irrigate their farmlands.