States cry foul over Modi regime ”bypassing” them in direct benefit populist schemes

By GS Radhakrishna

Sep 13, 2020
Bengaluru: The Opposition is crying foul over the various recent measures taken by the ruling BJP for direct to benefit transfer to the trageted population, terming it just as drive to consolidate its vote bank.

The Modi regime has launched several populist schemes as did the Opposition parties during their rule, but it has done this with direct accessibility to beneficiaries in the name of beneficiary transparency.

In the Welfare programs for pensioners farmers. petty traders, women, and youth under the garb of Digital India initiatives, the Centre has launched self registration .

Under the new initiative, the Opposition says, the Union Government not only bypassed state authorities in granting benefits but also engaged direct digital delivery to beneficiaries ( without physical verification of credentials of beneficiaries ) .

One such scheme is the PM Kisan Sanman Nidhi which doled out ₹6000 per month to each beneficiary(totalling 9.6 in 3 instalments to 9.6 crore small and medium farmers holding up to a maximum of 2 hectares and registered directly with it on its portal). The the scheme has become a subject of controversy after expose of an alleged scam in Tamilnadu this week.

TN chief minister K.Palaniswami has said that the ‘self-registration facility’ provided under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM Kisan) scheme resulted in a Rs 110 crore scam in the state.He ordered a Crime Branch Investigation and charged the Centre with introducing the lopsided self-registration method that led to the misappropriation of funds.

The scam came up during a routine scrutiny by Tamilnadu agriculture secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi and his team. Some miscreants had forged the login and password details of the union agriculture department officials to upload around five lakh fake entries in the portal, and collected the funds for each fake entry through fake bank accounts.The scheme was launched nationwide in February 2019 and the scam is identified in 13 districts of Tamilnadu where apparently the BJP is building its base.

The Tamilnadu BJP chief L Murugan has asked for a SIT probe and blamed both AIADMK and DMK allegations as election stunts .The DMK has sought a CBI probe and also alleged such scams in the PM housing scheme and pension schemes as well.

A well known World Bank initiative, the scheme is a copy cat of populist programs of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu and also Zambia in particular. In Telangana, after Modi launched this scheme, TRS govt further hiked the benefits to ₹12,000 per annum to farmers .While the Center gave 6000, the state govt gave matching amount. Other states keeping balance with Central schemes and might announce more ad hoc benefits ahead of 2021 assembly elections .

The BJP leadership defends its procedural transparency of self registration providing benefits to sections denied by the caste, political and other considerations of the current ruling entities in states .Such self registration process is likely to be followed in delivery of all Central populist schemes in future, it is said.

Many regional parties alleged that under the garb of Digital India program, the BJP was projecting Modi as the only saviour of farmers, pensioners, women, minorities,SC/ST/BC etc through such schemes

The Exonomists and political observers say that the Modi government’s drive was aimed at bypassing any scrutiny or intervention of state authorities in non BJP led states. Many Central schemes were identical to populist programs already launched by some state parties, like farmers input subsidy scheme of Telangana , Kalyanamastu, girl child promotion schemes of AP, Tamilnadu and Karnataka govts. Now Modi regime was aping it for larger political gains in these pockets of south India, where the Congress is eclipsed by regional parties, and where the BJP visualises a gateway .

In the past Niti Ayog meetings, the Centre had recorded that most of states’ populist schemes had Central contributions but credit went to state schemes with fancy titles .The BJP leadership is annoyed at Rajiv Gandhi tag for populist schemes in Rajasthan , and Punjab for schemes with Central funding .” Such things are happening in all Congress and regional party ruled states “ says Somu Viraju, Andhra BJP president.

The regional leaders, however, contend that BJP is copying their programs now and want these programs to be named after Central leaders’ choice .” The blame is on BJP and not us “ says T Harish Rao,TRS leader and Telangana Minister.

Though the Centre is funding, more than. 40 % ,in the programs for housing, free rice, free power, pension, women welfare, industry promotion ,police welfare, minorities welfare,SC/ST welfare etc, the state governments are naming schemes as their own for vote bank politics, say BJP leaders

The BJP and central agencies are, however, going to town with their publicity arms that most of the populist schemes of state governments are actually or semi financed by Centre, but credit is grabbed by regional entities in states to appease vote banks

The BJP-led Centre has launched its own data base of all beneficiary sectors based on data bases provided by Aadhar, Women welfare and Kisan registries with Central ministries.The BJP motive was to gain credit and popularity for its schemes funded by it, rather than allow the state governments to bag it by launching programs with local titles, though with Central components.

Last year, PM Modi launched a similar pension scheme for small and marginalised farmers. Under the scheme, around 5 crore small marginalised farmers will get a minimum pension of Rs 3000/month on attaining the age of 60. Farmers aged 18 to 40 years will be eligible to apply for Kisan Maan Dhan yojana. Here also membership is through self registration and nominal Aadhar ID.