Decode Politics: Why Rythu Bandhu has become poll flashpoint

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On Monday, the Election Commission ordered the cancellation of Ritu Bandhu’s permission to distribute funds for the Rabi season on November 25 after finding that the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) had violated its approval conditions while the model. The code of conduct was in place. The ruling BRS urged the Election Commission to reconsider its decision.

Among the many welfare schemes that the governor hopes will help BRS retain voter support, Rythu Bandhu is among the biggest. Recently, BRS Minister Thalasani Srinivas Yadav at a rally called the scheme a game changer for farmers.

What is Rythu Bandhu?

The scheme, one of the flagship programs of the K Chandrashekar government, was launched in 2011. It was launched in 2018 and provides Rs 4,000 per acre to about 58 million farmers twice a year for the two sowing seasons – Kharif and Rabi. In the year In 2015, the state government allocated Rs 12,000 crore for the project. In the 2019-2020 budget, the amount has been increased to Rs 5,000 per hectare. In the 2023 budget, the state government has allocated Rs 15,075 crore for the scheme.

In the year While the number of beneficiaries of the scheme stood at 58 lakh in 2018, it has increased to 70 lakh by July 2023.

While announcing the scheme, the Telangana CM urged people to give up the benefits associated with the scheme if they could, and he himself set an example.

What are some of the problems associated with the program?

Holiday discount

First, marginalization of tenant farmers. Moreover, the lack of a limit on the number of hectares has also been criticized by the rich – politicians, high government officials and other owners of large agricultural lands – and others who get benefits. In fact, since the payment is per hectare, the big farmers get more money, a problem that BRS has acknowledged and promised to fix.

What might be the political implications of the EC order?

KCR and his government have been singing about “success” during the elections saying that it has changed the life of the farmer.

Telangana has about 1.43 crore acres of agricultural lands. Farmers or people associated with the agriculture sector constitute a majority (55%) of Telangana’s population, and the support of the farming community is a key factor in forming the government.

Earlier both Congress and BJP They have alleged misappropriation of funds by BRS leaders regarding the scheme.

How the matter reached the EC

The Congress protested against paying the EC nod under the scheme, saying it would benefit the ruling party. On October 25, a delegation led by former Telangana Congress chief N Uttam Kumar urged the election panel to end the second phase payment in November, saying it would influence voters.

Incidentally, while stalling the implementation of the scheme, Telangana Congress chief Revanth Reddy has promised to increase the amount given to farmers by Rs 5,000 if his party is elected to power.

Reacting to the EC order, Congress MP and Communications Officer Jairam Ramesh took to X to reiterate his party’s Rythu Bharosa scheme. The party has promised Rs 15,000 per hectare to farmers, including tenant farmers, and Rs 12,000 to agricultural labourers.

What caused the EC new order

In the year In a November 25 order, the EC said the BRS government would not use the scheme in political speeches while campaigning, would not add any beneficiaries and should not increase the amount, allowing the BRS government under the scheme. A model code of conduct promised funding while it was in place.

However, on Saturday, Telangana Finance Minister Harish Rao, while addressing a public meeting in Palakurti, said: The Congress has promised Rs 15,000 per acre. We are already giving 10,000 birr per hectare, and if we come to power, we will increase it to 16,000 per hectare. The payment will be made on Monday (November 27). Even before farmers have tea and breakfast, the amount will be in their accounts.

In order to stop the payment, the commission said: “The commission has not only observed that the BRS Party sponsored candidate from CDIPET… the party’s star campaigner and also the Telangana Finance Minister has violated The MCC provisions, however, disturbed the playing field by announcing the release of the above-mentioned conditions under the scheme and the ongoing selection process.

The poll panel directed the Telangana government to submit a compliance report before 3:00 pm on Monday.

How did BRS respond?

BRS has asked the EC to reconsider the decision keeping in mind the interest of farmers. “The scheme (Rythu Bandhu) has been going on for the last five and a half years. The government has proposed to provide assistance under the scheme from November 24 after the end of the rabies period. Similarly, you have been informed that permission was granted on November 25,” the letter said, adding that the EC’s strict monitoring of Harish Rao’s violation of the MCC was “wrongly placed”.

KCR reiterated his party’s stand and said that Rythu Bandhu is not a new scheme and funding under it will continue after BRS returns to power after the elections.

KCR’s daughter and BRS MLC K Kavitha said the EC order exposed the “dirty politics” of the Congress.

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