The ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh launched itself into an election mode with chief minister Raman Singh announcing to fulfil one of his major promises made during 2013 assembly polls to provide bonus to more than 13 lakh farmers who had sold paddy under the Minimum Support Price (MSP) scheme before this Diwali. This decision could entail a burden of about Rs 2,100 crore on the state exchequer.
An emergency meeting of state BJP executive, MPs MLAs and other office bearers, held at the state party headquarters, also took a string of decisions to strengthen the party organisation at the booth-level after taking stock of state’s political situation arising out of main opposition Congress aggressively pursuing many issues to target the state government and its ministers, raising issues of corruption and cornering the BJP government on its failures to fulfil its poll promises.
Talking to reporters, Raman Singh said bonus would be given to farmers before this Diwali. “Rs 2100 crore would be distributed to more than 13 lakh farmers”, he said adding that last year’s bonus would be disbursed this year while this year’s bonus would be given by mid next year. He said the decision to provide relief to the farmers were taken during his recent discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During last polls, BJP had promised the farmers to give Rs 300 per quintal as bonus on paddy procured under the support price scheme.
The ruling party’s emergency meeting, which was attended by BJP state party in-charge Anil Jain, state BJP chief Dharamlal Kaushik, chief minister Raman Singh, BJP national general secretary Saroj Pandey and other party leaders, had triggered intense speculation about the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle as the assembly polls are scheduled to be held in November next year. Besides, the meeting also took place in the backdrop of opposition Congress mounting pressure on the BJP government on various issues including its failure to fulfil its poll promises to the farmers. Many districts are facing drought like situation and the farmers are in distress. Paddy cultivation, its support price and bonus per quintal has always been a major issue in Chhattisgarh region and it’s considered as the “life-line” of state’s agrarian economy. Political observers say that the BJP’s decision is aimed at taking the sting out of Congress campaign besides positioning itself for the next year’s assembly polls when the BJP is aiming to retain power for the fourth consecutive time.
Party sources said other discussion centred on the party’s campaign to further strengthen its base at booth level. BJP president Amit Shah is all set to flag off a mega motorcycle rally, comprising more than a lakh vehicles from the state capital on October 25. Ten party workers on five motorcycles each from 22,000 polling booths will participate in the rally in which all senior leaders will be participating. Besides, party leaders have been asked to focus more to achieve the target of “Mission 65”, set by BJP chief to win at least 65 out of 90 assembly seats in the state.