The ruling BJP lost state assembly elections in five key states as the rural voters turned away from it. BJP performed poorly in key two states. The rural voters and farmers showed their anger against BJP government for not supporting them. The rural voters punished BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram.
The agriculture sector is in crisis. The farmers and peasants are facing hard time. The farmers were looking towards the central government for help and subsidies. They want subsidies on fertilizers and diesel. The rural unemployment is on the rise as employment opportunities are limited. They are not happy the way BJP government just ignored their sufferings and difficulties.
There were lots of hopes that BJP led by populist nationalist right wing Modi will do something to overcome the agriculture crisis and improve the conditions of rural India. But nothing really happened in last four and half years of Modi government.
Indian farmers voted overwhelmingly for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2014 general election that swept him to power. He cannot count on them doing so again, as a crash in commodity prices and surging fuel costs stoke anger in the countryside.He will have to change policies and his attitude towards rural India to maintain a certain level of support.
The results of state assembly elections in five states are clear indication that his rural support is dipping. He has already lost significant rural support base. If this trend continued till May 2019 when general elections will take place in India that will cost him heavily. The BJP routed in Chhattisgarh and performed poorly in Rajasthan.
Four years ago, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, winning 73 of 80 seats, as the rural poor – swayed by promises of higher crop prices – deserted the rival Congress party.
Now, facing criticism for not improving living standards in the countryside, where 70 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people live, analysts and farm economists said Modi would find it hard to repeat the feat in a general election due by May 2019.
No doubt, there was a wave for Modi in 2014, but farmers are disenchanted with him now. PM Modi promised to double farmers’ income but their earning has halved because of his apathy and anti-farmer policies.
Higher inflation and sluggish growth helped Modi trounce Congress, which had long counted the rural poor as its core constituency, in the 2014 election. Small farmers had been hit by rising living costs but benefited little from rising food prices because of the web of middlemen in India’s agricultural markets.
Since then the economy has picked up, recording its quickest pace of expansion in nearly two years in the first three months of 2018, helped by higher growth in the farm sector.
But lower food prices, weaker farm wages and modest crop procurement rates – the result of a shift in focus from the subsidies favored by Congress to investment under the pro-business BJP – have hurt most of India’s 263 million farmers, who typically own less than 2 hectares of land.
In the past year, Modi’s popularity has fallen by 12 percentage points among farmers, according to a “Mood of the Nation” survey published last week by the Lokniti, part of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), a research institute.
Prices of pulses, a key crop for Indian farmers, have fallen 25-30 percent below state-set support prices, as higher imports and bumper local crops bumped up supplies. While the government announces support prices for more than 20 crops each year to set a benchmark, state agencies actually buy only rice and wheat at the support level.
Vegetable prices, especially onions, cabbage and tomatoes have fallen 25 percent from last year, largely because of the lack of refrigerated trucks that could take the perishables to the consuming big cities.
Milk prices have also dived by more than 25 percent in the past year as a global glut has brought exports to a near halt.
The mood in rural India has changed in last couple of years. There was a big swing towards BJP and Modi before the 2014 general elections in the rural population. There were high hopes that Modi will deliver his promises and their lives would be better under Modi. But now these hopes and illusions have been shattered. The Congress is making a comeback in rural India.
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17 November, 2019