For the BJP, privileging urban India over villages isn’t so much about the economy, it’s ideology

“Modi is good for the country. Perhaps he is good for the cities. But he is not good for the villages,” a wealthy farmer in West Champaran, near the India-Nepal border, told me during the Bihar elections in 2015.Representational image. AFP

His words echoed in Gujarat where the urban-rural divide was as stark as black and white. Driving down a highway, you found people in the urban stretch with the BJP, and as soon as the city was left behind, people started complaining of farm distress and unemployment. The urban-rural divide was seen among Patels too.

The BJP knew it had a problem in rural areas, and yet it did precious little to address them. Minimum support prices of some items were increased only by a bit, and unlike other states, there was no talk of a farm loan waiver.

The BJP in Gujarat has always done better in urban than rural areas. It has been able to ignore rural because as this election showed, it can come to power almost exclusively on urban vote.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains steadfastly opposed to farm loan waivers, even though he has allowed BJP state governments to give them if they so desire.

He has refused to make substantial increases in minimum support prices for farmers – and we know that a promise to this effect in the budget was bunk. It will mean only a little more money in the hands of farmers, as several reports have shown.

The Modi governm...

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