Ram Mandir to farmer relief: Big announcement expected by Centre this week
New Delhi, Jan 28: One could expect some major announcement this week by the Union Government. Hoping to turn the tables ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there are bound to be some announcements this week, sources tell OneIndia.
Among the announcements expected could be an ordinance on the Ram Mandir, relief package for farmers or some decision on direct transfers.
There has been plenty of buzz around an ordinance on the Ram Mandir. Several people have urged the government to take the ordinance route instead of waiting for the Supreme Court to hear and decide on the matter.
The Supreme Court which constituted a new Bench was scheduled to begin hearing the matter on Tuesday. However a circular by the registry on Sunday stated that the matter would not be heard as one of the judges on the Bench is not available. Justice S A Bobde who is part of the Bench would not be present on Tuesday and hence the matter would not be taken up.
The Union Cabinet is also likely to approve a relief package for farmers who are grappling with falling prices. The likely relief package is seen as an attempt to assuage the farming community's discontent ahead of the general elections.
"...The Agriculture Ministry's proposal on addressing income deficit syndrome of small and marginal farmers is on the agenda (at the Cabinet meeting)," a source said.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet meeting, which was scheduled for January 28, has been deferred, as per sources. The Agriculture Ministry has recommended several options to provide both short and long-term solutions to address agrarian distress. However, a final call will be taken in the Cabinet meeting as a huge cost is involved, they said.
One of the options proposed is waiving interest on crop loans for farmers who pay on time, costing an additional ₹15,000 crore to the exchequer.
There is also a proposal to completely waive premium for taking insurance policy for food crops. The Centre is also evaluating the scheme followed by the Telangana and Odisha governments wherein a fixed amount is transferred directly into the bank account of farmers, the sources further said.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh had recently indicated that the government would announce an agriculture package before the 2019-20 budget. The NDA government will present an interim budget on February 1.
Experts said the government has less time to implement any new scheme. The measure has to be such that it can be implemented faster to reap the political gains during the elections.
It may be noted that the central government has taken farmers' issues seriously after the ruling BJP was defeated in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the recent state polls, where rural distress was a key factor.