Union Minister Arun Jaitley Sunday hinted that the Rs 500 a month cash dole to small farmers may be increased in the future as the government’s resources grow and said states can top up this amount with their own income support schemes. He also slammed Congress President Rahul Gandhi for ridiculing the scheme announced in the Interim Budget for 2019-20 by equating it to Rs 17 a day dole, saying the opposition leader must “grow up” and realise that he is contesting a national election and not a college union poll.
The plan to give Rs 6,000 cash to 12 crore small and marginal farmers every year together with government schemes for giving them a house, subsidised food, free healthcare and hospitalisation, free sanitation, electricity, roads, gas connections, twice the amount of credit at very cheap rate are all aimed at addressing farm distress, Jaitley told PTI in an interview here. “This is the first year where it (farmer income support scheme) has begun. I am sure as the government resources improve, this can be increased,” he said.
On nearly 15 crore landless farmers being left out of the scheme, he said they have rural employment guarantee scheme MNREGA plus other benefits for the rural population. “What is the biggest thing that the Congress claims that they ever did? (UPA regime Finance Minister) P Chidambaram announced a Rs 70,000 crore farm loan waiver… (but) actual distributed was only Rs 52,000 crore. (Also), CAG said a large part of that money went to traders and businessmen and converted itself into a fraud,” he said.