At a time when farmers are demanding farm loan waiver, former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda Saturday reminded them how his government in 2005 had waived off electricity bills worth Rs 1,600 crore soon after coming to power in the state.
“First of all, after assuming power, I had waived off arrears of power bills worth Rs 1,600 crore,” he said while addressing a well-attended Kisan Panchayat at Jind. The power bill waiver had benefited 3.5 lakh customers in rural areas, mainly farmers, who had failed to deposit the long-pending arrears.
In today’s Kisan Panchayat, Hooda also recalled the “Kandela Kand”, reminding farmers how “nine farmers were killed when they were protesting for power bill loan waiver” during the INLD regime. The rally at Jind drew good response. “We came here to support Hooda. For us, Hooda means Congress. It was the Hooda government which had started giving 10 paisa per unit electricity for tubewells,” said Ganga Singh Lathar (65), a resident of Mando Kheri village in Jind district. The farmers came in tractor-trolleys, apart from private vehicles, including jeeps and cars.
The Congress has no legislators out of five MLAs in Jind district, considered a stronghold of INLD which has three MLAs in the district. The fourth MLA is Independent while the fifth BJP MLA Prem Lata, who is wife of Union Minister Birender Singh.
Addressing the farmers, Hooda said, “We remained silent for one year after the BJP government came to power (in Haryana as well in Centre in 2014) as we wanted to give them time. But how can we keep silent when they fired bullets in the chests of farmers (in Madhya Pradesh). It’s not only the case of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh, but the farmers across the country are facing troubled times.”
“Nobody is ready to purchase their crops. The prices of paddy are very low but still prices of rice are very high. Similar is the case of wheat and “aata”. When the farmers were selling their tomatoes, there were no buyers, but now the same is being sold even for Rs 80-90 per kg in markets,” said the former CM who was accompanied by his supporter Congress MLAs and his son Deepender Singh Hooda, a Lok Sabha MP. “During my sarkar, you were getting 8 hours daily electricity for tubewells. Do you get the same now?” The crowd replied, “No…no.”
A group of women like Darshan Devi and Darshan Devi, who also attended the Kisan Panchayat, said, “We came to raise our voice for profitable prices of crops. Because of sinking land holdings, the agriculture has become a vocation of loss.”