30 per cent farmers to vote for BJP in upcoming Lok Sabha elections: CSDS survey
It’s a mid-summer harvest the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) can look forward to with relish. Almost a third of the nation’s farmers intend to vote for the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, says an in-depth survey conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). Only 17 per cent of the 11,000 surveyed people from the farming community-arguably the largest ever such exercise- say they will vote for the Congress party.
“The survey of over 5,000 farmer households was conducted in 137 districts across 18 states of the country. Pollsters also interviewed one female and one young member of the respondent household wherever possible. Over 11,000 interviews give an insight into their socio-economic conditions, expectations, hopes and vote choice,” said Sanjay Kumar from CSDS. The survey was conducted for Bharat Krishak Samaj between December 2013 and January 2014 in 274 villages across the country.
It is significant that the inclination of farmers towards the BJP is fairly widespread across the country. Looking at the regional level, the BJP is the preferred party in northern states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab, Delhi, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, and in the central western regions of Maharashtra and Gujarat. In the southern and eastern parts of India, farmers are inclined to vote for parties other than the BJP and Congress, the survey reveals without specifying names of the political parties.
The survey also paints a sad picture of the conditions of farmers in the country. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) guarantees the right to work and ensure livelihood security in rural areas by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer for unskilled manual work. The survey says that approximately 85 per cent of the farmers have heard about MGNREGA, the flagship scheme of the ruling United Progressive Alliance. Among those who have heard about this scheme, 51 per cent say that their household did not get work under this scheme. About 70 per cent have not heard about Direct Cash Transfer scheme.
With 58 per cent of farmers saying that both State and the Central government are responsible for their problems, approximately 62 per cent of the interviewed farmers are not aware about Minimum Support Price (MSP). Among those who have heard about MSP, 64 per cent say that they are not satisfied with the government-set rate of crops. “Disorganised farmers have not been taken seriously, and their consent for policies has been taken for granted. Farmers’ voice has got lost, and both farmers and the ruling party are suffering as a consequence,” said Ajay Vir Jakhar, Chairman, Bharat Krishak Samaj. “We appeal to all political parties to give proportionate representation to real farmers at time of Lok Sabha ticket distribution and promise the same at time of Union Cabinet formation. Only then can good policies can be made and implemented,” he said.