Opposition and ruling MPs engaged in an exchange during question hour in Rajya Sabha Friday over farm loan waivers, following the decision of Yogi Adityanath’s government to waive such loans in Uttar Pradesh.
Expressing concern over drought in Karnataka, Congress member Oscar Fernandes said, “Farmers of Karnataka are very much affected. The state government had requested the government of India to extend the loan waiver scheme to the farmers of Karnataka. I would like to know from the minister whether the Centre is going to give assistance to the state government to extend the loan waiver scheme to farmers of Karnataka,” Fernandes said.
Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh replied: “Karnataka is a frontrunner state in providing assistance to farmers. When B S Yeddyurappa [BJP] was chief minister, farmers had got interest-free loans. The government which followed after that [Congress] also continued that practice. As far as the loan waiver is concerned, I am sure that the government of Karnataka will follow Uttar Pradesh.”
Deputy leader of the Congress Anand Sharma reacted sharply, saying while the minister has given advice to the Karnataka government, “UPA has done nationwide loan waiver”. “Will you as central minster or the prime minister follow it? Tell us about the whole nation, not about one state,” Sharma said.
The minister said that monetary allocation to Karnataka has gone up three times during the NDA regime and the government is doing much more for the states now. He said Karnataka will receive total central assistance of Rs 1.85 lakh crore for the period 2015-20, against only Rs 67,000 crore received during 2010-2015.
Chairman Hamid Ansari stepped in: “I hope during question hour, questions will be questions and answers will be answers without political debates.”
Earlier during zero hour, Revati Raman Singh of the Samajwadi Party said that in Uttar Pradesh only crop loan of farmers has been waived and not their tractor loan and term loan. Singh sought a statement from the government.
The Opposition members also made a demand for a raise in the import duty on wheat from the existing 10 per cent to 25 per cent, as had been done by the NDA government earlier to ensure that the indigenous farmers do not suffer.