New Delhi: In a major rural push, the government has allocated a massive Rs 2.83 lakh crore for agriculture and allied sectors, as sought by the BJP in its pre-Budget meet with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on January 9.
For agriculture, allied activities, irrigation and rural development, the whopping allocation has been made for 2020-21. In fact, ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthan Mahabhiyan’ (PM-KUSUM) will be expanded to provide 20 lakh farmers in setting up standalone solar pumps, said Sitharaman.
The Budget speech claimed to set the agricultural credit target at Rs 15 lakh crore.
“Village Storage Scheme run by Self Help Groups will provide holding capacity for farmers, and women in villages can regain their status as ‘Dhaanya Lakshmi’,” said Sitharaman.
In its continued thrust on the rural sector, the Finance Minister approved Rs 3.6 lakh crore for Jal Jeevan Mission to provide safe drinking water to rural India.
The Finance Minister also announced Kisan Rail and Kisan Udan — farmer-centric railway and aviation services, in her Budget speech.
This is in line with BJP’s demand for a ‘Gaon, Gareeb, Kisan Budget’ that it had sought in its three-hour-long pre-Budget meeting with the Finance Minister on January 9. BJP General Secretary Arun Singh, who had attended the meeting, told the media after its conclusion that it will be a “Gaon, Gareeb, Kisan” (village, poor, farmer) driven budget. As Sitharaman read out the details, it turned out to be one.
Moreover, later this year, Bihar – one of India’s most populous states will go to polls where the BJP hopes to return to power. According to 2011 census, of the total population of Bihar, around 88.71 per cent live in villages. In actual numbers, the total population in rural areas of Bihar was over 9.23 crore.
This rural thrust may also be aimed to appeal to that segment, while others argue this move will put more money in the hands of the rural populace, creating a rural demand that will have positive effects for the economy at large.