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Yogi Adityanath’s first budget focuses on farm loan waiver, key constituencies

LiveMint logoLiveMint 12-07-2017 Meenal Thakur

New Delhi: Keeping its electoral promise of waiving off farm loan taken by farmers, the newly formed Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Uttar Pradesh focused on improving rural infrastructure, especially in drought-prone Bundelkhand and Purvanchal (eastern Uttar Pradesh).

Chief minister Yogi Adityanath presented the first budget of his government on Tuesday maintaining his focus on the key constituencies that voted the BJP to power after 15 years.

To begin with, the budget provided Rs36,000 crore for farm loan waiver, a poll promise made during the assembly election earlier this year. Uttar Pradesh was the first state to announce farm loan waiver and the decision was taken in the first cabinet meeting held by Adityanath.

Rural development was also a major focus area of the budget as a sum of Rs4,500 crore was allocated for the “Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (Rural)” for providing housing facility to families without homes and those living in kutcha houses. Similarly, Rs2,800 crore was allocated for groundwater-based rural drinking water scheme in Bundelkhand, Purvanchal and Vindhya regions.

As for other backward classes, who drifted towards the BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha election and later in the 2017 state election, the government allocated Rs52.66 crore for the construction of hostel for poor students belonging to backward classes. A provision of Rs551.28 crore has also been made for reimbursement of fees of these students.

The government announced various schemes for the weaker sections of the society including a budgetary allocation of Rs692 crore under the Mukhya Mantri Kisan Evam Sarvhit Bima Yojna, Rs85 crore for Common Man Insurance Scheme and provision of Rs250 crore for community marriage of daughters of poor parents belonging to SC (scheduled caste), ST (scheduled tribe), OBC and minorities. Similarly, a sum of Rs. 791.83 crore has been set aside for the scholarship scheme for minority students.

In a bid to promote religious tourism and cultural heritage of the state, the government allocated Rs1,240 crore under the Swadesh Darshan Yojna for Ramayan Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and Krishna Circuit in Ayodhaya, Varanasi and Mathura, respectively.

Analysts said that the budget indicates that the BJP government has finally shed its image of being a party whose core constituency was the business community.

“There was a general feeling in the country that the BJP is pre-disposed to the interests of the business community. Therefore, with the announcement of a farm loan waiver and focus on tackling agrarian distress, Yogi Adityanath has broken away from that image. The only continuity between the previous UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government and the current BJP government is their focus on farm distress,” said Manisha Priyam, a New Delhi-based political analyst.

However, she also pointed towards the government’s push to promoting the ideology of Hindutva.

“What is also evident in the budget is a clear move towards the Hindutva ideology. Adityanath is not a developmentalist chief minister like Shivraj Chouhan or Vasundhara Raje Scindia. All the decisions taken in the budget have a Yogi Adityanath stamp on them and represent the next generation of the BJP. Cattle protection at such a large scale has not been seen before while the CM is also simultaneously addressing the rural and farmer constituency,” she said.

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