The ruling TRS in Telangana on Friday claimed the cash dole for farmers announced in the union budget was an “imitation” of the ”Rythu Bandhu” scheme in the state with slight modifications.
At the same time, the party said politics had taken precedence over economics in the budget in general and claimed that it might not swing votes in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance in Lok Sabha elections due by May.
“As they say, imitation is the best form of flattery,” KT Rama Rao, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) working president and son of Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, told PTI.
He was referring to the the ”Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi”, under which Rs. 6,000 will be transferred into the bank accounts of farmers holding up to two hectares of land.
The Centre has picked up the Rythu Bandhu scheme in Telangana which is the brainchild of the chief minister, Mr Rama Rao, also known as KTR, said.
“They have slightly modified it and made it into a nice programme which will benefit about 12 crore farmers,” he said.
“I wish they had replicated Rythu Bandhu in toto. They have put some restrictions, they have said only for farmers with two hectares, it’s one time per year and they will give Rs. 6000,” he added.
“Had it been seasonal, had it been replicated in toto like Telangana, it would have benefited many more farmers and those who cultivated two crops,” he said further.
“So, that (the central scheme) is definitely welcome but, more importantly, they could have done better,” KTR said.
Under Rythu Bandhu, an agriculture investment support scheme for agriculture and horticulture crops, the Telangana government is providing farmers Rs. 4,000 per acre per season for purchase of inputs like seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, twice a year, for rabi and kharif seasons.
KTR said the scheme has already been implemented and about 58 lakh farmers have reaped the benefits.
“I am sure as a state and country we should welcome it (Central scheme) but at the same time, the timing of it (ahead of Lok Sabha elections) leaves one to suspect there is more to this move than just merely helping farmers,” he said.
KTR later tweeted that the scheme announced by the Narendra Modi government was a “trimmed version” of Rythu Bandhu.
“The name may have been changed by NDA Govt, in spirit it remains trimmed version of Rythu Bandhu. Jai Kisan,” he said.
On other announcements in the budget, KTR said people of the country understand politics and economics.
“When political parties think that some gestures right on the anvil of elections are going to swing votes for them, I think the people of this country have in the past surprised you (the parties) and they might surprise you again,” he said.
For a prudent government, economics always take precedence over politics, but in this case it appeared politics superseded economics “which I am sure people of this country will see through”, the TRS working chief said.
Nevertheless, he said the beneficial measures for the middle class and farmers should be welcomed but at the same time “one should take it with a pinch of salt right around elections”.
“(Narendra) Modi saab could have done this (giving reliefs) in the last four years… Had this come in the second or third budget then people would have enjoyed certain fruits of it,” he said.
“While the move is good, people will see through the political side of it,” he added.