BANKS PUTTING up posters to “name and shame” farmers who have defaulted on loans have irked not only farmers in Haryana, but also state Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar, who has written to his Cabinet colleague, Finance Minister Captain Abhimanyu, to put an end to the practice. Leaders of opposition parties have called the move an attempt at political one-upmanship in the Haryana Cabinet. Of the nearly 16 lakh families in Haryana that are involved in agriculture, around 15 lakh have taken loan either from banks or commission agents. In case of farmers, who have been unable to pay their loans, posters with their pictures are put up by banks at various locations.
Objecting to the practice, Dhankar in a letter to Captain Abhimanyu said it has come to his notice that posters of farmers, who due to some reason had failed to repay their loan, have been put up.
“Farmers always abide by the concept of give and take. By pasting their posters and getting kukri (auction) of land hurt their self-respect. We are all supporters of the ideology of Sir Chhotu Ram. To save farmers from mental harassment, practices like pasting of posters and kukri should be stopped immediately,” wrote Dhankar.
Dhankar said since the BJP government came to power, they have paid Rs 93 crore every year as interest on behalf of the farmers, who repaid their loans on time. He said the banks should follow some other means to recover loans from defaulting farmers instead of “kukri” and pasting posters as it causes embarrassment to the farmers.
Captain Abhimanyu said, “As far as banks are concerned, they work under the supervision and direction of Government of India. We will apprise the banks of the spirit of the letter.”
In the past few months, infighting in BJP has intensified. There have also been talks about having a deputy chief minister in the state. Captain Abhimanyu was considered to be among the probables. Dhankar is former national president of BJP’s Kisan Morcha.
Abhay Singh Chautala, leader of the opposition and Indian National Lok Dal leader, said, “It is just an attempt at political one-upmanship. The government is neither concerned about farmers nor any other section of society. These people only want to insult one another on some pretext or the other.”
He said if the ministers were so concerned about farmers, then they should waive loans as has been done in Uttar Pradesh. He added that despite the damage to crops due to inclement weather, the government has not even waived the interest on farmers’ loans.
Former Speaker and Congress MLA Kuldeep Sharma said, “From Day One, cohesiveness in functioning of the government has been in doubt. It’s not for the first time that one minister has taken a stand against the other. It has been happening for a very long time. For the last three months, everyday, new speculation comes about who will be the deputy CM. Bickering in the Cabinet has affected the functioning, governance and administration.”