Union minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday hinted that the Rs500-a-month cash dole to small farmers may be increased in future as the government’s resources grow, and said states can top up this amount with their own income support schemes.
He said the Opposition leader must “grow up” and realise that he is contesting a national election and not a college union poll.
“What is the biggest thing that the Congress claims that they ever did? (UPA regime finance minister) P Chidambaram announced a Rs70,000-crore farm loan waiver… (but) actual distribution was only Rs52,000 crore. (Also), CAG said a large part of that money went to traders and businessmen and converted itself into a fraud,” he said.
The current government, he said, is “starting off over and above the lakhs of crores we are putting into rural areas”. “We are starting off with Rs75,000 crore a year and I foresee this amount increasing in the years to come. And if the states top it up, some states have already started with the scheme, I think the others must emulate them, it will increase,” he added.
Jaitley further said the state governments, too, have a responsibility to address farm distress by bringing their own income support schemes.
“Some state governments have started it,” he said. “So, my advice to what I call the ‘Nawabs of Negativity’ is to ask your own state governments to top it off with their own income support schemes.
Ideally, like the GST, this is a case where all political parties must defy party lines and in the spirit of cooperative federalism, have a Centre plus state scheme.”
On nearly 15 crore landless farmers being left out of the scheme, he said they have rural employment guarantee scheme MGNREGA and also other benefits.