Barely a fortnight after her party lost all three bypolls in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje presented the annual budget on Monday. It was the last budget of this BJP government in Rajasthan. What followed was a slew of announcements with an eye on the upcoming Assembly polls. Announcing a loan waiver for farmers, Raje said, “Small and marginal farmers are among the most vulnerable groups in our society. We have taken a significant decision to waive short-term farm loans. More than 20 lakh farmers in the state will benefit.”
The announcement was followed by uproar, with the opposition members demanding that all farmer loans be waived. Raje also announced several benefits for Dalits, SCs and STs. Apart from the decision to waive up to Rs 2,00,000 in loans availed to such people by the state, Raje announced that Rs 80 crore has been allocated for construction of Ambedkar Bhawans in each municipality.
She also allocated funds for cow protection. Duration of fodder subsidy given to cow shelters in the state will be increased from 90 days to 180 days. Provisions have also been made to provide subsidies up to Rs 50 lakh for Nandi Gaushala (shelters for bulls) in each district. A sum of Rs 50 crore has also been allocated for constructing sheds, drinking water facilities and fodder storages in cow shelters in state.
The Congress criticised this, citing the death of hundreds of bovines in Hingonia cow rehabilitation centre in Jaipur two years ago. Raje also announced a menstrual hygiene scheme and said that women in the age group of 15-45 years will be provided sanitary pads. The budget announced that arrears of 7th pay commission will be paid from April 1.