Agriculture is a significant source of income in Himachal Pradesh. Did farmer-related welfare policies affect the voting preference?
With specific State and Central policies directed towards farming, we analysed whether those engaged in agriculture or related activities have benefited from these schemes in an effort to assess if this has affected their voting preferences in the recent State election.
When it comes to the Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, close to half of the surveyed households benefited from this scheme. Voters from beneficiaries’ households from the scheme voted equally for both the Congress and the BJP. Furthermore, out of the non-beneficiaries, 47% voted for the Congress, while 39% voted for the BJP. The variation among beneficiaries was quite stark when it came to the Prime Minister Crop Insurance Scheme, with 32% of the beneficiaries voting for the Congress and more than half (57%) voting for the BJP. Further, when it came to voters who were non-beneficiaries, more than two-fifths voted for the Congress, while 39% voted for the BJP (Table 1).
With the Central government’s decision to increase the GST from 12% to 18% on the packaging of apple boxes, there was a widespread protest against the move.
Among the voters who were engaged in agriculture and related activities, nearly half of them (50%) fully opposed the decision, while support (fully support + somewhat support) for the move was only about 10%. Furthermore, among those who fully opposed the decision, more than half (52%) voted for the Congress while 34% voted for the BJP (Table 2).
While assessing voters’ opinion on the Central government’s decision to remove subsidies on fertilizers, seeds among other items, we found that more than half of the respondents (54%) fully opposed the decision while only 14% supported it to some degree (fully support + somewhat support). Among those who opposed the decision, more than half (52%) voted for the Congress while one-third (33%) voted for the BJP (Table 3).
In reference to the timely payment of harvest, nearly 17% reported that it has improved in the past five years, while 22% reported that the timely payment of harvest has deteriorated in the BJP-led Himachal. A significant proportion (31%) did not respond to the question.
With the victory of the Congress in the recent State election, it can be assessed that there was some level of discontent among the farmers due to the rise in GST and removal of subsidies, which may have had a causal effect on the BJP’s loss in the region.
(The authors are researchers at Lokniti-CSDS)