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Haryana poll may be linked to monsoon
Anita Katyal
Political Correspondent

New Delhi, June 22
The timing of the Haryana assembly elections may well be linked to the status of the monsoon, a major source of worry for the UPA government as the delay in its outset will have an adverse impact on agriculture resulting in a rise in food prices.

The elections are due next February but the Congress leadership has been mulling the possibility of advancing them and holding them along with those in Jharkhand and Maharashtra in October.

The Congress apparently wishes to cash in on its recent performance in the Lok Sabha elections, thus generating an enormous amount of goodwill for the party. However, it might have to rethink its plans and stick to the original schedule as this goodwill could easily dissipate if the monsoon is delayed any further.

“If there is insufficient rainfall or the monsoon doesn’t arrive at the right time, farm production will be hit,” remarked a senior Congress leader, adding in such a situation it might be advisable not to advance the polls since the state’s economy is based on agriculture. It is also feared delayed rains may lead to a serious problem of drinking water which, in turn, could result in serious disaffection among the people.

As it is, reports suggesting the rainfall in June has been less than 45 per cent of the normal figure for this month is vexing the UPA government. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed concern over the serious repercussions of any further delay in the monsoon at last week’s cabinet meeting. After a detailed briefing by cabinet secretary KM Chandrashekhar, the PM instructed him to set up a special committee to monitor the impact of delayed and scanty rainfall and draw up contingency plans.

Although the monsoon is expected to revive over the next few days, the central government does not want to be caught offguard as it is depending on agricultural growth to boost the economy. Besides, the successful implementation of its new flagship programme to provide foodgrains free of cost to those living below the poverty line is also contingent on a bumper crop output.

While the committee headed by the cabinet secretary meets every day, the Centre has also called a meeting of agriculture ministers of the ten worst affected states of central India on June 25 to discuss their contingency plans in case of any further delay in the rains.

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