Former union minister and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal today said the union government had failed to double farmer income, increase employment, control inflation and improve the lot of the poor and downtrodden.
Speaking on the President’s Address in parliament, Harsimrat Badal said “even though the President had stressed that improving the lot of farmers, poor and youth was the focus of the union government, the same has not been supported with data”.
Asserting that the data was to the contrary, the Bathinda MP said even though the union government had promised to double farmer income by 2022, this promise remained elusive. “As per the data of the National Statistical Office (NSO) the average income of agriculture households increased from Rs 8,000 per month in 2015 to only Rs 10,000 per month in 2019”. She said in stark contrast the NSO data revealed that the average debt of farmers had increased by 58 per cent in the same period. “As many as 10,880 farmers also committed suicide in 2021 as per the Centre for Science and Environment”, she added.
Stating that farmers were most indebted in Punjab with small farmers in the State incurring a debt of Rs 3 lakh per farmer, Badal said the issues of farmers were also not being addressed. “Despite a clear cut undertaking by the central government that a sub-committee would be formed to make minimum support price (MSP) a legal right of farmers, the same was not done”
She said even as there was an 80 per cent increase in agriculture inputs, the increase in the MSP was increased by 30 per cent only. She also disclosed how there was a 26 per cent decrease in the Kisan Samman Nidhi beneficiaries in Punjab which was contributing the most to the national food kitty. She said similarly even though crop insurance companies had earned Rs 57,000 crore, farmers in Punjab did not get any compensation for successive crop losses even though its chief minister – Bhagwant Mann had promised to release compensation for crop losses even before the conduct of the girdawari.
Speaking about the state of the youth, the former union minister said as per the World Bank Data the unemployment rate was 23 per cent in India. She said 43,000 professionals were recorded to have committed suicide even as there was a 68 per cent increase in the rate of students going abroad. She said in Punjab itself, the enrolment of youth in higher education courses had reduced by 50 per cent due to massive frauds in the SC Scholarship scheme during the tenure of the previous Congress government.
Talking about the menace of drugs in the country, Mrs Badal said the situation was precarious in Punjab with drones from Pakistan flying in drugs into the State. “A demographic disaster is taking place but the central government is yet to come out with a concrete policy to stop the influx of drugs into Punjab from across the border”.
Speaking about the state of the poor, Mrs Badal said as per data as many as 74 per cent of Indians were not able to afford healthy food. She said correspondingly since 2012 there had been a 40 per cent increase in petrol prices, 60 per cent increase in diesel prices, 70 per cent increase in pulses and a 77 per cent increase in milk prices. She also disclosed how the RBI had disclosed that there had been a 5.1 per decrease in annual household savings in 2023 even as the annual financial liabilities of households increased by 5.8 per cent of GDP during the same period. “This is surely not acche din”, Mrs Badal added.
The Bathinda MP also spoke on how the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) had disclosed that there was a ten per cent increase in crime against women in 2023. She also asked when the women reservation law would be implemented, saying this was the need of the hour.