New Delhi: In a bid to woo the farming community, the BJP, in its manifesto released on Monday, announced a slew of measures including Rs 6,000 as annual income support, interest-free loan up to Rs one lakh and pension for farmers above the age of 60 years.
The party has been making extra efforts to placate farmers after it lost the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assembly elections held in December last year, primarily due to agrarian distress.
Besides farmers, the party also announced pension scheme for shopkeepers, another section of the society which was apparently upset with the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
According to the BJP's manifesto or 'Sankalp Patra (document of resolve)', if the party is voted to power again, it would invest Rs 25 lakh crore in the next five years in agriculture and rural areas and is committed to bringing down the percentage of families living below the poverty line to a single digit during the same period.
Senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government is committed to doubling farmers' income by 2022.
Under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, the government is providing Rs 6,000 yearly income support to farmers owning land up to two hectares. Once voted to power, this support would be provided to all farmers across the country, he said.
"We will launch a pension scheme for all small and marginal farmers in the country so as to ensure social security to them on reaching 60 years of age and will provide short-term new agriculture loans up to Rs one lakh at a zero interest rate for one to five years on the condition of prompt repayment of the principal amount," the BJP manifesto stated.
The party also said that it would make enrolment under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana voluntary.
With an aim to achieve self-sufficiency in the food sector, the BJP pledged to launch an oil seeds mission to increase its production and provide subsidised sugar at Rs 13 per kg per family monthly to the 80 crore families covered under the National Food Security (NFS) Act.
The manifesto stated that it will allocate Rs 10,000 crores to ensure availability of storage and marketing tools and infrastructure like ice-boxes, cold storage, ice-plants and others for small and traditional fishermen.
A number of welfare schemes for small traders were also announced by the BJP in its manifesto, including establishment of national traders' welfare board and creation of a national policy for retail trade.
Another key segment which the BJP has given much attention in its manifesto is rural areas.
It promised to launch a special program, 'Nal se Jal', to ensure piped water connection to every household by 2024 and reiterated its pledge that every gram panchayat will be connected by a high-speed optical fibre network by 2022 and all villages will have access to banking facilities within a radius of 5 km.
The party said it would continue to give special attention to 115 'aspirational districts' identified by the Modi government and will continue to focus on growth of eastern parts of the country.
"We intend to continue with this effort to ensure that these districts catch up with the rest of the country. Similarly, we have already laid the foundation for economic and social progress of eastern India through improved connectivity, construction of high-impact infrastructure projects and provision of adequate financial resources," the manifesto stated.
Underlining the party's vision of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' (together with all, development for all), the manifesto said, "The creation of an open and egalitarian society is central to the philosophy of the BJP."
Talking about education, the party said every block in the country with more than 50 per cent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons will have an Eklavya Model Residential School.
"Eklavya Schools will be on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas and besides providing state-of-the-art training in sports and skill development, these schools will have special facilities for preserving local culture," the manifesto stated.
Anganwadi and pre-school system will be strengthened to ensure that cases of disabilities are detected at an early stage and will offer higher interest rates on fixed deposits by divyangs (specially-abled), the party added.
The BJP, in its manifesto, claimed that there has been a 42 per cent growth in national minimum wage and it will continue in the same direction over the next five years.