Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Reddy will launch his flagship farmer assistance scheme today from Nellore district. Under the YSR Rythu Bharosa-PM Kisaan, which has been named for his father - former Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy - 54 lakh farmers will get Rs 13,500 over three instalments. Of these, 40 lakh are beneficiaries of the PM Kisaan Samman Nidhi and will get Rs 6,000 from the centre in three instalments. The state government will add Rs 7,500 to that sum.
"Our Chief Minister was keen we must give credit to the Centre where it is due. That is why the scheme has been renamed with the PM's name included since we are getting funds from them," Andhra Pradesh irrigation minister Anil Kumar Yadav told NDTV.
Chief Minister Jagan Reddy traveled to Delhi earlier this month to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the scheme's launch. And although the Prime Minister will not be at the scheme's launch, Jagan Reddy's inclusion of the PM Kisaan label appears to be an attempt to play nice with the centre, which had earlier expressed disappointment with the state's decision to re-tender Polavaram projects.
The state government has enhanced the amount promised - Rs 12,500 - by the ruling YSR Congress ahead of Assembly polls in April. In addition, the scheme is being implemented seven months ahead of schedule and at a time when the state's finances are in dire straits.
This means farmers in the state, including three lakh tenant farmers from minority categories, will receive Rs 67,500 as support over five years instead of the Rs 50,000 over four years that they were promised.
"We are hoping to increase that number to 9-10 lakh tenant farmers as they are often poorest and most vulnerable," Varaprasad, Nellore MLA, said.
According to Agriculture Minister K Kanna Babu, there are a total of 51 lakh farmers, revised from the 43 lakh listed by the previous government, eligible for assistance. They have been given till the end of the month to register for assistance under the scheme. Officials say beneficiary names will be displayed at village secretariats so errors can be corrected.
"We have asked village volunteers to collect data of farmers and land holdings. Top three tiers of elected representatives are not eligible. All MLAs and MPs present and past are not eligible. It does not apply to zilla and mandal parishads and village sarpanchs. People who are using land for aqua culture and real estate also will not be covered under the scheme," Mr Kanna Babu explained.
Next of kin of 1.37 lakh farmers who would have been eligible will benefit, he added.
Chief Minister Jagan Reddy's father, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, was seen as a farmer-friendly Chief Minister and his son, it appears, wants to at least live up to his father's legacy.
YSR Rythu Bharosa is similar to the Rythu Bandhu scheme in neighbouring Telangana that led TRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao to the Chief Minister's chair with a massive mandate. However, unlike that scheme, Rythu Bharosa provides every farmer the same support irrespective of land size.