Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government started its second term on Friday with a ‘farmer first’ approach by extending its welfare schemes to all including the landless and offering them pension.
Under the existing Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme or PM-Kisan, 120 million farmers with less than 5 acres were given Rs 6,000 per year. This scheme has been extended to all farmers including the landless.
The new government approved pension plans for farmers and traders and enhanced the scholarship for children of security personnel killed during encounters with Islamist and Maoist groups.
The announcements made after the first cabinet meeting on Day 1 of the government showed its determination to fulfil the promises made to voters in the recent general elections.
The extension of benefits and pension to farmers may be to silence opposition parties which had been targeting the previous Modi government for its “anti-farmer” approach during the recent election campaigns.
Friday’s pro-farmer gesture could also be a way to win the good will of the poorest of the poor and raise the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) vote tally from 303 to 350 in the 2024 general elections.
After winning a massive mandate in 2014 general elections thanks to the anti-incumbency wave against the previous Congress-led government, BJP had been winning most provincial elections because of its welfare schemes touching the lives of the poor.
Their Jan Dhan gave the poor access to bank accounts and ensured that financial benefits due to them are directly transferred to their bank accounts.
The party’s Sahaj Bijli scheme led to electrification of 25 million households, Ujjwala Yogana provided subsidised cooking gas cylinders to 70 million households and Awas Yojana provided homes for 15 million homeless.
Poverty has no religion or politics and a large section of the underprivileged has been voting for BJP for changing their lives for the better. The thumping majority the party got in the latest polls proves this.