Rains bring relief for the BJP government in poll-bound Chhattisgarh

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Incessant rainfall for the last one week has brought a big relief for the BJP government in Chhattisgarh as the poll-bound state escaped from slipping into drought for the second consecutive year.

The government heaves a sigh of relief with recent rains as the state goes to the polls later in the year and retaining power for the fourth consecutive term has been a daunting task for the ruling party. 

In the last kharif season, a severe drought hit Chhattisgarh that had been among first five states contributing rice to the central pool.

“The state received 367 millimeter of rainfall (against average of 1185 mm) that has turned the table,” agriculture deputy director R K Chandravanshi said.

The paddy transplantation work has suddenly gained momentum in last one week and they are hopeful for a good crop in the current kharif season when initial reports suggested otherwise, he added.

The government was in a fix as another drought, that too in the election year, would have been a big challenge. Besides, compensating the farmers for the loss, starting relief works in the affected areas were not an easy task to deal with.

The new minimum support price (MSP) and a bonus of Rs 300 per quintal on paddy, announced by the Chhattisgarh government had been a major poll plank for the BJP.

“The price issue would work only when the yield was better and farmers sold their paddy to the government; this was the reason why government was worried when drought-like situation prevailed initially,” farmers’ leader and political analyst Virendra Pandey said.

The rainfall recorded in the last one week has brought a big change and in many areas, farmers had to re-sow paddy due to excess water in the field, Pandey said, adding that the crop yield has a major political significance in the state.

The opposition Congress has been pulling all the strings to sway the farmers. If the farmers failed to get the desired dividend, it would help the Congress.

After all, the state government is pumping about Rs 120 bn in rural economy by procuring paddy from the farmers at MSP. Chhattisgarh is among the few states in the country that purchase paddy. Last year, about 7 million tonnes of paddy was procured.

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