Jodhpur, November 19
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, the “wily magician” (jadugar) has attempted to eclipse BJP’s aggressive Hindutva cow agenda in a single stroke of his magic wand by allocating Rs 3,000 crore in the last five years for the construction of cow shelters and protection of bovines.
Considering the fact that there are 1,638 ‘gaushalas’ in state’s seven divisions, the maximum 482 being in the Jodhpur division, which is the area of influence of the Chief Minister, the move is being seen as a masterstroke by political observers to woo Hindu voters.
“In these 1,000-odd ‘gaushalas’, there are 7,35,188 cows and buffaloes. The measure is clearly aimed at appeasing the farmers and cattle keepers. At the same time, it is blunting BJP’s cow politics,” said Babulal, a political analyst.
Moreover, in an astute move, Gehlot has also started giving insurance cover to farmers to cover their losses in case of untimely death of their milch cows.
Under it, the insurance premium is fully paid by the state government.
In September, just two months before the announcement of the Assembly elections, he launched the Mukhya Mantri Kamdhenu Pashu Bima Yojana, an insurance scheme for cattle like cows and buffaloes, where farmers are given insurance on the untimely death of their milch cows.
The cattle population in Rajasthan is 5.68 lakh, which is 10 per cent of the country’s total cattle population. Of this, 7 per cent are cows while 12.47 per cent are buffaloes.
Owing to illness or death of milch cows, farmers lose their income and also have to bear their medical expenses. Under this scheme, insurance cover is given to farmers in case of untimely death of a milch cow.
Around 40 lakh farmers are said to be benefitting through this scheme. Two cows are covered under the insurance cover for each family.
Almost 80 lakh milch cows have been brought under its ambit, sources said.
In addition to this, in 2022-23, Gehlot had launched a camel preservation scheme to encourage breeding of camels to prevent their depleting number, especially in western Rajasthan, which is a desert region.
A provision of Rs 2.60 crore has been kept for the scheme.
Under it, camel keepers are given financial assistance and on birth of camels, they are given Rs 10,000 in two instalments as encouragement amount.
Ramlal Saini, a ‘gaushala’ caretaker in Jodhpur, said, “We have benefitted from this scheme, as on the death of one cow, I received an insurance cover.”
“A soft Hindutva line seems evident behind the announcement of this scheme, and it may counter BJP’s aggressive cow politics,” said Kundan Jain, a former lecturer.
In September, just two months before the announcement of the Assembly elections, Gehlot launched the Mukhya Mantri Kamdhenu Pashu Bima Yojana, an insurance scheme for cattle. Under this, farmers are given insurance on the untimely death of their milch cows.
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