Opposition BJP Leader Jagdish Shettar on Tuesday demanded that the Karnataka government announce farm loan waiver in the wake of the severe drought and warned of an agitation if the demand was not conceded. Calling the government “anti-farmer” for not heeding the demand of farmers, he accused it of inefficiency in handling the drought situation.
“BJP and its leaders are touring the state to study the drought situation. Everywhere farmers are demanding farm loan waiver. If government doesn’t announce the loan waiver, we will stage a protest with lakhs of people at Vidhana Soudha (the state secretariat),” Shettar said.
“Agitation is inevitable, if government doesn’t agree,” he said during a short term discussion about the drought situation in the Assembly.
Shettar questioned as to why the government is not able to take a firm decision to write off farm loans despite such a severe drought. “Farm loan waiver will give the much needed respite to farmers who are in distress and will build self-confidence in them,” he said.
Calling the government “anti farmer”, Shettar questioned as to why the Chief Minister has lost “compassion” towards farmers.
He pointed out that the Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra governments have waived farm loan worth Rs 36,000 crore and 30,000 crore respectively.
State governments there have done it on their own and the Centre did not come to their rescue as being projected, he said. “Why our Chief Minister who is in the office for fifth year unable to do what has been done by UP and Maharashtra CM’s?,” he asked.
He questioned the government for pointing fingers at the Centre on loan waiver and said the present central government has released highest relief under Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) in the last 10-15 years.
Referring to the “failures” of the government in drought management like providing employment and drinking water to those in distress, the former chief minister said NREGA wages are not being paid within seven days, resulting in farmers’ exodus from their villages in search of jobs.