Report by Jag Mohan Thaken
04 February 2024, Chandigarh: All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has termed the present budget as an Anti-farmer and Anti-People budget by the BJP Government.
In a statement, AIKS has stated that the Narendra Modi-led BJP Government is creating a fake narrative that the Union Budget 2024-25 (Interim) is “innovative and inclusive”, while the hard reality is that 2023-24 and 2024-25 would be the years with the lowest spending on agriculture and allied activities in the last five years.
Even in the election year, the Union Budget 2024-25 (Interim) has nothing substantial to offer for the rural economy and the agricultural sector. When compared with 2022-23, the allocation for agriculture and allied activities in the 2024-25 budget has been cut by a whopping 81 thousand crores. In overall allocations for agriculture and allied activities, there is a decline of 22.3% compared to actual expenditure in 2022-23 and a 6% decline vis a vis the 2023-24 revised budget. This is a clear indication of the class nature of the “inclusion” by the Modi regime, which is systematically trying to dismantle small-scale agriculture and the livelihood of crores of peasants and agricultural workers at the behest of its corporate cronies. The “innovative” methods to annihilate the peasantry invented by the Modi regime are sought to be hidden in the larger framework of the nationalist narrative.
The farmers’ union added that the budget presented by the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman shows massive cuts in rural development, MGNREGA, rural employment, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, cooperation, food storage and warehousing, plantations, crop husbandry, flood control and drainage, land reforms, fertilizer subsidy, food subsidy, dairy development, soil and water conservation, irrigation, nutrition, rural roads, housing, education and health. Allocation of resources for women and children, and Scheduled Castes and Tribes, has also been cut drastically. There has been no allocation to ensure that the long-standing demand of the farmers for ensuring Minimum Support Prices as per the C2+50% becomes a reality.
Divulging the details, AIKS stated that the allocation for fertilizer subsidy in 2024-25 is Rs. 87,339 crores less than the actual expenditure in 2022-23. The allocation for food subsidy is 67,552 crores less than the actual expenditure in 2022-23. The anti-farmer attitude of the Modi government is seen in the fact that year after year, budgetary allocations in key areas such as fertilizer and food subsidies, as well as for important schemes such as MGNREGA, reflect the intent of the government to massively cut allocations to these crucial sectors. This insensitivity in the wake of the widespread crisis exposes its apathy to the plight of the poor. Every year under this BJP Government it has later been forced to increase allocation given this reality of acute distress. Not factoring in this aspect in the Budget points to its anti-poor character.
The release signed by General Secretary Vijoo Krishnan and President Dr Ashok Dhawale added that the decreasing resource transfers to state governments in real terms and reduction in borrowing limits, as part of a protracted war against constitutional federalism, will significantly weaken the capacity of the progressive and democratic state governments to implement policies that will benefit the working people. This is to be contrasted with the largesse bestowed upon big business houses by creating a conducive atmosphere for looting the working people in the name of “ease of doing business” and by refusing to proportionately tax monopolies and ultra-rich.
AIKS leaders added that the finance minister has also reiterated the NDA regime’s loyalty to the International Finance Capital by promising an unhindered path for finance, in the form of FDI, etc. To give it a nationalist color and manipulate people, the finance minister has defined FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) as “First Develop India”; it is rather a project to Fast Drain India. The proposal to promote private and public investment in post-harvest activities including storage, processing, and marketing is a blatant attempt to bring back the draconian Farm Acts and the rapacious corporates through the back-door which they were forced to withdraw after the historic farmers’ struggle. The trajectory of the Modi regime indicates that it will not be peasants who will get ‘developed’ but loyal partners of international finance like Adani and Ambani.
AIKS also has called upon all its units to rise in protest against the anti-farmer, anti-people Budget, and make the 16th February Grameen Bharat Bandh a massive success.
Haryana SKM leader Inderjeet Singh says, “I can say that Haryana being predominantly an agriculture state has absolutely nothing in this budget that can in any way ameliorate the miseries of agrarian crisis. Rural unemployment and unemployment in general is bound to aggravate as this acute joblessness has not been even mentioned let alone addressing it.”
Inderjeet Singh adds that drastic climate changes have become a permanent problem causing uncertainty in crop production. He says that there is no emphasis on compensation and insurance claims for the damaged crops in the background of PMFBY proving beneficial only for the private companies.
He further states that FCI / Cotton Corporation / other procurement agencies have been deliberately starved of required allocations in successive budgets of the Modi government.
Inderjeet Singh added, “Modi government thinks that they can win another term by dividing the people on religion and caste, which is not going to happen.”
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