Hyderabad: While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was drubbed in the agrarian states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh due to growing discontent among farmers, in Telangana, caretaker chief minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, or KCR, seems to have reaped rich dividends from new schemes such as direct cash transfers to farmers. While Madhya Pradesh opted for price support schemes, which were often ineffective due to limited procurement, KCR took a different route to augment farmer incomes in Telangana, a state which is known for suicides in marginal cotton growing families.
Seven months before the 7 December polls, the Telangana government led by KCR had launched its flagship ‘Rythu Bandhu’ scheme, under which about 5.8 million land-owning farmers were given ₹ 8,000 per acre every year as farming costs. It was soon followed by the ‘Rythu Bheema’ insurance scheme, under which all families of farmers (between 18 and 60 years) were given ₹ 5 lakh for accidental or natural death.
Despite some discontent among farmers over glitches in an earlier loan waiver, the two major schemes seem to have done the trick for the TRS. It won a massive 85 out of the total 119 seats in Telangana. To top it, KCR had announced another loan waiver of ₹ 1 lakh per farmer as part of its poll promise.
Farm discontent due to crashing prices in the state (in May 2017, chilli farmers ransacked the Khammam market following a fall in prices by ₹ 8,000 per quintal) did not seem to impact the TRS, which had promised to look into the issue.
In fact, as part of its poll promise, Rao had also promised to increase the ‘Rythu Bandhu’ amount to ₹ 10,000 per year. “There was some excitement around the Rythu Bandhu and Rythu Bheema schemes, but there was also fear that if KCR was not voted to power, irrigation projects would be impacted. Unlike in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, there was also the Telangana sentiment, combined with other factors that helped KCR," said Hyderabad-based political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.