The Gujarat unit of the Congress on Monday organised demonstrations across the state demanding farm loan waiver with party leaders dubbing the state BJP government’s policies as “anti-farmer”. The party’s ally, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), also made the same demand, saying the farmers in Gujarat were no better off than their counterparts in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh where the BJP governments have already waived loans of farmers.
Addressing one such demonstration in Nadiad, Congress general secretary in-charge of Gujarat Ashok Gehlot said that lack of water for irrigation and inadequate power supply have adversely affected agriculture production in the state, thereby badly hitting the rural economy.
“The BJP government of Vijay Rupani should read the writings on the wall and change its policies vis-a-vis farmers. Agriculture is no more profitable because of the high cost of input in the last few years,” said the former chief minister of Rajasthan as he demanded withdrawal of VAT from fertiliser to bring down the input cost of agriculture.
He also demanded that the state government should revise the minimum support price (MSP) for cotton, groundnut and other cash crops by adding 50 per cent over the cost of production to ensure that farmers get reasonable return on their crops.
Gehlot said that the policies of the state as well as the Modi government were pro-capitalist, affecting other section of the society, particularly agrarian communities. The demonetisation, he said, was the biggest setback to the agricultural communities. “What happened in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra where farmers came on the road in huge numbers against the government, was a direct reflection of the disappointment of the farmers with the BJP governments in their states,” Gehlot said, adding a similar atmosphere was building up in Gujarat.
State Congress president Bharatsinh Solanki, who accompanied Gehlot, said the party will block roads on June 16 against the “anti-farmer’’ policies of the BJP. “The BJP government has completely failed to meet the demands of farmers and students. Unemployment has increased and farmers are not getting minimum support price for their crops,” he said.
In Rajkot, senior NCP leader Praful Patel, who inaugurated his party’s Saurashtra zonal office, said: “If loans of farmers can be waived in Maharashtra, same should happen for farmers here in Gujarat. Farmers here should also get interest-free loan as they are getting in Maharashtra. The interest-free loan should be of Rs 2 lakh instead of Rs1 lakh as given in Maharashtra.”
Patel’s comments come a day after the BJP-government in Maharashtra announced to write off farm loans. After coming to power in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP government there too announced a similar farm loan waiver.