In a bid to roll out its new flagship scheme — Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi — before the code of conduct for the Lok Sabha polls kicks in, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government has directed state governments to expedite the list of farmers eligible for the dole in their respective states.
Sources said the central government was particularly keen that BJP-ruled states take the lead in the scheme’s implementation.
The Centre had announced the new scheme, which promises an annual direct monetary assistance of Rs 6,000 to small and marginal farmers, while presenting the interim Budget for 2019-20 on February 1.
Following this, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh wrote to chief ministers of various states to assist in the speedy implementation of the scheme. Cabinet Secretary P K Sinha also held deliberations with chief secretaries of states in this regard.
Under the scheme, small and marginal farmers with total cultivable land holding under two hectares will receive the benefit in three installments. But the government has clarified that those having other sources of income, holding a public post, or liable to pay income tax would not be eligible for the grant.
In BJP-ruled Maharashtra, which is also scheduled to witness state Assembly polls this year, government estimates are that the centrally sponsored scheme would benefit about 1.2 crore out of the total 1.52 crore farmers, roughly 80 per cent, and cost Rs 7,200 crore. On Thursday, state Agriculture Minister Chandrakant Patil reviewed the modalities of implementing the scheme in Maharashtra. On the occasion, he issued directives to district-level officials to screen the list of eligible farmers and collect all relevant details within the next 10 days.
At a time when the Opposition has been targeting the Devendra Fadnavis government in the state over “poor implementation” of the farm loan waiver scheme, a senior BJP minister said that a “speedy and effective” roll out of the new scheme will give the ruling party a political edge for elections in rural Maharashtra.