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Three years of TRS, party shifting focus to ‘ailing’ farm sector

LiveMint logoLiveMint 06-06-2017 Yunus Y. Lasania

Hyderabad: Three years after it came to power in the new state of Telangana, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has adopted a series of farm-friendly measures, interpreted by opposition parties as the ruling party’s desperate attempt to reclaim its losing support among farmers.

In April, chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao announced input subsidies of Rs4,000 per acre for all farmers for both rabi and kharif seasons, starting next year. He also announced a fund of Rs500 crore for the State Farmers Federation, days after chilli cultivators allegedly ransacked an agricultural market in Khammam after a steep fall in prices.

This is the first time such schemes have been announced in the newly formed state, where the government has so far focused on IT and industrial sectors.

“Agriculture is one of the core areas (of the state). Our idea is to secure the farming community for the long term,” K. Kavitha, Nizamabad MP and Rao’s daughter told Mint. She added that the government’s motive is only to help farmers, as they have not been provided with any infrastructure over the last few decades.

“It (the chilli price fall) was a case of demand and supply, as the chilli production was huge resulting in lowering of prices. It cannot be looked at in isolation. If the opposition wants to say that chilli prices have fallen due to KCR, it is unfortunate,” said Kavitha.

The Nizamabad MP also said that the state government has increased the storage capacity for agricultural produce in Telangana. “We have spent Rs1,000 crore alone in the last three years. Our aim is to have a godown in each mandal. So when there is a lot of produce, farmers can utilize these facilities till they get a good price,” she added.

Opposition leaders had mocked the input subsidy announcement as an attempt to stem TRS’s losing support among farmers.

Krishna Saagar Rao, spokesperson, BJP, claimed the TRS government “completely marginalized” the agrarian sector in Telangana. “The farming community has been left out of the government’s plans, resulting in zero support for ailing farmers with crop losses,” he said, and added that the Centre’s Market Intervention Scheme to help chilli farmers was also not utilized by the TRS government.

And with just two more years to go for elections, Kavitha said that the TRS’s latest internal survey shows that it can win more than 100 seats in the 119 member assembly. It has 90 MLAs at present (including defections from other parties).

“The TRS is always prepared. In the last three years, we hardly lost any election (municipal and bypolls). Every party wants to keep their cadre motivated; I believe that is what they are trying to do,” Kavitha said on the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) trying to make inroads in Telangana.

In the last two months, BJP national president Amit Shah and All India Congress Committee (AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited Telangana, in preparation of the 2019 elections.

Prof. M. Kodandaram, chairman, Telangana Joint Action Committee, said that the ruling party has not come out with a comprehensive agricultural policy, which the TJAC has been asking for. He felt that the TRS has not been able to fulfill its electoral promises as well, with regard to jobs and employment as well after it was formed.

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