Delhi,Aradhna Wal(DNA): Despite the NDA government at the Centre limiting relief for affected farmers, Delhi has gone ahead to enhance relief to Rs 20,000 per acre from its own kitty. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced a new compensation for the Capital's farmers in light of destroyed crops in unseasonal rains.
This move comes a few days after the Modi government announced new compensation norms, which limit the amount farmers get to Rs 2,750 per acre in rain-fed areas and Rs 5,465 per acre in assured irrigation areas.
The Kejriwal government has, so far, not made any differentiation area-wise and only announced a blanket sum of Rs 20,000 to all farmers in Delhi's territories. Nor has it announced the source of the money, only saying that it comes from taxes paid by Delhi's residents. This is a move in direct competition with other states, topping Maharashtra's compensation of Rs 10,000 per acre to farmers.
In his first rally since the Aam Aadmi Party swept the Delhi elections, Kejriwal accompanied by AAP leaders Sanjay Singh, Ashutosh and local MLAs, travelled through villages of Narela, Bawana, Mundka, and rural territories in outer Delhi.
Addressing a moderate crowd of some 1,500 people, mostly men, Kejriwal made the announcement, calling it the biggest compensation amount for farmers in the country. He added more freebies to the list, saying that the government was chalking out subsidies for fertilisers and seeds, cheaper electricity for farming purposes and taking care of long pending applications by farmers for tube well connections.
Till this point the crowd was quiet, borderline sleepy and unaroused by Sanjay Singh's loud sloganeering. The sheet amount of money declared by the CM finally got cheers and applauses out of them.
Calling this the public's money being returned to them, Kejriwal repeated his barbs against other political parties from his pre-election campaign speeches. "Before AAP, the money was stolen from the public by those with corrupt intentions. Now it is being given to the public," he said.
However, unlike the pre-election rallies, the crowd at mundka was more jaded than jubilant. Kejriwal's political statements, his comments against the NDA government, against the media, against people hatching conspiracies against AAP were met with silence. The farming community, beaten down by the loss of thousands of hectares of land, was not interested in cheering the CM's every statement. They responded only when Kejriwal said something that direct my affected them.
According to the delhi Gramin Morcha organiser, Deep Khatri, after the April 2, rains crops on close to 80,000 acres of land have been destroyed. These figures are yet to be verified.
This rally was also not the show of strength the party had hoped it to be. Sources say that the MLAs were preparing for a crowd of 10000 people. Barely 1500 showed up at the grounds in Mundka. However, the reaction to the compensation amount and the pro-farmer freebies proved that Kejriwal still knows how to be the people's favourite.