The recent elections in three states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan witnessed a significant focus on the rural economy. Rahul Gandhi and the Congress Party went around town promising farm loan waivers and other populist measures for electoral benefit. In fact, Rahul Gandhi also tweeted on the National Kisan Day where he reiterated his misplaced belief that farm loan benefits benefit any farmers.
Unfortunately, most of these announcements are just theatrics as the reality on the ground is in stark contrast with what the Congress was projecting before the elections. While Congress Governments in these three states had announced a loan waiver, they forgot that a similar waiver costing Rs. 34,000 Crores in Karnataka had benefited only 800 farmers. In fact, farmers continue to commit suicide post the loan waivers in Karnataka and in Madhya Pradesh. Thus, as argued by many, loan waivers only help to get votes while they result in huge economic costs to the states as they fail to benefit most of the farmers. Despite this, the repeated statements by Rahul Gandhi on farm-loan waivers shows the true face of Congress and its commitment to policies that get them votes rather than looking for policies that resolve the issues of farmers and the rural sector over the long run
It is interesting to note that within just 20 days of the Congress coming to power, the corrupt mindset of Congress has taken over these three states.
The decision to allocate 50% urea to private traders as against 20% before indicates that the culture institutionalized corruption is back. It has been found that private traders have been hoarding urea and have been selling it in the black market. A 45 Kg bag of urea that used to be sold at Rs. 250 is being sold at Rs. 450 to the farmer without a bill. Thus, the economics of funding elections through artificially creating shortages, colluding with traders and through black marketing of products is being brazenly practised by the Congress in these two states as it looks to fill its coffers before the 2019 campaign.
The recent shortage of Urea in both these states also indicate that Congress has no regard for the farmers, and it has completely forgotten the promises it made in the run-up to elections. Up until 20 days ago, there was an adequate supply of Urea for farmers, however, suddenly there’s an acute scarcity of Urea in the state of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. This shortage has been artificially created as the availability of Urea is 2.75 lakh metric tonne (LMT) while total sales are 1.85 LMT for Madhya Pradesh and for Rajasthan, the availability is 2.60 LMT as against sales of 2.31 LMT. Thus, there is absolutely no denying that this is an artificially created shortage which is being exploited by the Congress.
Before 2014, urea marketing, or rather black-marketing used to be a big business, however, since 2014, the state and central government had worked extensively to systematically reduce the leakages of Urea subsidy by coating it with Neem and making it unviable to use it for industrial purposes. The recent shortage of urea in MP and Rajasthan indicate that the business is back at the cost of the farmer and a major factor behind the return of the business is the policies enacted by the state government. What is all the more concerning is that such shortage of urea during the peak sowing season urea is bound to negatively impact sowing and agricultural produce in the subsequent harvesting season. The return of leakages and systematic corruption is going to have a negative impact on the incomes of the farmers, hence Congress has sown the seeds for a decline of the rural sector of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
This episode of urea shortage shows the true face of Rahul Gandhi’s talk on farmer welfare as it exposes the lack of empathy of his party. While Rahul Gandhi tweets on “farmers welfare”, his state governments work overtime to ensure just the opposite- that’s the true Congress model of “farmers welfare” that India rejected in 2014 and it’d do the same in 2019 too.