The battle between alliance partners in Bihar over a larger share of seats for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is taking new turns every passing day. The Nitish government has apparently snubbed the central government's crop insurance scheme, unveiling a scheme of his own.
The battle between alliance partners in Bihar over a larger share of seats for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections is taking new turns every passing day. Just as it began to appear that all was well between Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after the former’s assertion that its leader would be the face of the elections in Bihar, the Nitish government has apparently snubbed the central government’s crop insurance scheme, unveiling a scheme of his own.
The “Bihar Rajya Fasal Sahayta Yojana”, which will provide financial assistance to farmers for their crop damage, will replace the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and will be implemented from Kharif 2018. However, Cooperative Department’s Principal Secretary Atul Prasad made it clear that this is an assistance scheme and not an insurance scheme. He added that farmers, both ryot and non-ryot, have been included in the scheme.
Prasad said any farmer registered under the scheme will not have to pay any premium but will be able to avail the benefits he or she incurs crop damage due to natural calamities. The earlier insurance scheme benefited insurance companies more than the farmers. Prasad provided the figures of Kharif 2016, and said that both the state and the central government provided Rs 495 crore each as premium besides two per cent of premium given by farmers under the old insurance scheme, but only Rs 221 crore was paid by insurance companies as crop damage in the state. The state government did not even get back the amount what it invested as premium amount (Rs 495 crore) for crop insurance, he said.
Prasad said farmers would get Rs 7500 per hectare as assistance for upto two hectares if their crop is less than 20 per cent of threshold production limit while the assistance amount will increase to Rs 10,000 per hectare upto two hectares if the crop loss is above 20 per cent of threshold production limit.
This comes just days after Janata Dal (United), a key constituent of the NDA government in Bihar, demanded that the BJP finalise the seat-sharing formula for the 2019 general elections, dropping hints that it wants to retain the 2009 formula when the JD(U) had contested on more seats than the BJP. Party spokesperson Ajay Alok on Sunday asserted that Nitish Kumar will be the ‘face’ of NDA in Bihar during next year’s general elections.