Saturday, October 28, 2023

Peasants (Farmers), Promises, Politics & Power ( State Assembly Election November-2023 and Agriculture Politics in India)

In November 2023, State Legislative Assembly Elections will be held in five Indian states: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, and Manipur. These state legislative elections are of great significance as they are considered a semi-final for the Lok Sabha Election, scheduled for April 2024. Power is intertwined with politics, and politics relies on votes to enact decisions. These State Legislative Elections in India are crucial, especially as the entire opposition has formed an alliance against the Current Central Government, which has been in power with a majority for the last 10 years.

The poor and peasants constitute two major voting blocs in India. Most political parties prioritize policies that cater to their needs. Countless promises are made to both communities to secure electoral victories. According to the World Bank, 10.2% of India's population lives below the poverty line. Approximately 56% of the population is engaged in agriculture as their primary source of livelihood, and 60-70% of the population is directly involved in farming and related industries. Agriculture politics in India always remains at the center of elections, democracy, and election campaigns.

Peasants (Farmers), Promises, Politics & Power ( State Assembly Election November-2023 )
Peasants (Farmers), Promises, Politics & Power ( State Assembly Election November-2023 )

The issue of farmer loan waivers is a paramount concern for all political parties. Poor climatic conditions and crop failures often render farmers unable to repay their loans. This has become a pressing political agenda in every state. Since 2012, different state governments have waived approximately ₹2.51 lakh crores in farm loans. However, this is not the end of the problem, as almost every opposition party is now promising farm loan waivers. What was initially a temporary solution to unpaid agriculture loans has evolved into a persistent problem for banks, farmers, and the economy. Peasant (Farmer) vote power in Indian politics is always considered a hot topic and is always given primary importance. In recent trends, rural voting trends always favor the loan waiver scheme.

The demand for electricity in agriculture doesn't remains constant throughout the year. During peak irrigation periods, there is an increased demand for electricity in specific cultivation zones, often leading to disruptions in the electricity supply. Farmers are left waiting for hours, forcing some to resort to fuel-powered pumps, incurring additional costs. Farmers who lease land are compelled to find the funds for alternative irrigation sources. Free rural issues in state politics also attract non-farmer rural voters. Electricity theft is the main problem in rural electricity distribution.

Free electricity disrupts both electricity supply and irrigation, placing an additional financial burden on actual farmers. Some farmers do not use the free electricity judiciously, resulting in excessive irrigation that can lead to nutrient leaching and other issues. Farmer vote bank politics demands such freebie schemes.

Despite numerous loan waivers, the problem of poor loan repayment is worsening, causing long-term harm to farmers. The interest on loans continues to accumulate, eventually exceeding the principal amount. Banks resort to seizing collateral properties against these loans, leading to land auctions. Defaulting farmers' credit scores decline, creating future obstacles when they seek loans.

In reality, the agricultural market infrastructure in states is deteriorating day by day. Taxes and fees continue to increase, with the burden ultimately falling on farmers. Farmers are also consumers of agricultural commodities, and they are compelled to pay more for their needs. For example, fresh or chilled vegetables like bottle gourd, tomatoes, lemons, onions, potatoes, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, carrots, cucumbers, and beetroots have been exempted from the Goods and Services Tax (GST) by the central government. However, in Rajasthan, a new fee called Krishak Kalyan Fees is imposed at a rate of 2% on the traded value on fruits and vegetables, which is higher than the mandi tax on other agricultural commodities.

Peasant (Farmer) influence on elections is the bull’s eye for politicians and political parties. We witnessed the conditions during the protests against the three farm laws. Other important issues for farmers include suicides, Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for crop produce, crop insurance, fertilizer subsidies, and irrigation subsidies. Although these are crucial issues, they receive less attention during election campaigns due to their lower political importance and uniformity. State politics and the agriculture sector are closely related. Generally, agriculture is under state jurisdiction, and the central government does not have much interference in day-to-day agriculture issues.

No comments:

Post a Comment