On Tuesday, YS Jaganmohan Reddy will launch the Rythu Bharosa scheme in Nellore district. The Andhra Pradesh CM added a sweetener at the last minute by hiking the annual benefit to farmers from the proposed Rs 12000 to Rs 13500 and announcing that the scheme will be implemented for five years and not four years as declared earlier.
But three other aspects of the scheme stand out. And they will have a bearing politically.
One, Jagan has ensured the scheme is christened `YSR Rythu Bharosa – PM Kisan’. The posters also bear PM Narendra Modi’s photograph. This is in stark contrast to the earlier culture where the BJP often used to accuse Chandrababu Naidu of hijacking central schemes and passing them off as his own. Here, the state government has combined the Centre and state grants and conveyed a federal welfare spirit. That a non-NDA government is doing so says a lot.
The political angle to this is that Jagan wants to be on the right side of the BJP government at the Centre. He needs the leadership’s help in tackling the terrible financial mess the state is in. He is aware that the BJP, even without having a single MLA or MP in Andhra Pradesh, can create problems for him if it wants to. Even at a personal level, the strong petition filed by the CBI in court in connection with Jagan’s DA cases has caused much consternation.
Two, from the point of Andhra Pradesh politics, the numbers will allow Jagan to cock a snook at Naidu. The previous TDP government had said there will be 43 lakh beneficiaries for such a scheme. The YSRCP government has increased the number to 54 lakh farmers.
Three, the scheme will also benefit three lakh tenant farmers belonging to the SC/ST, BC and minorities. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Telangana where tenant farmers are kept out of receiving any benefits. In Telangana, the farmers who commit suicide are mostly the tenant farmers while the cheques are more often than not, not going to the tiller but to the rich landlords who own the land while living comfortably in Hyderabad.
Jagan’s decision is bound to be contrasted with KCR, just like Andhra’s decision to recognise RTC employees as state government employees has created a headache for the Telangana government. Telangana RTC employees want the same benefit extended to them.