LESS THAN a week after suffering a humiliating electoral reversal in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government on Wednesday expanded the scope of its ambitious loan waiver programme by promising to include even those farmers whose outstanding loan is more than Rs 2 lakh.
The original scheme announced ahead of assembly election promised to waive off crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh. However, its implementation became a major talking point in the recent Lok Sabha polls with the BJP alleging that the Congress had taken farmers for a ride by promising something that it could not deliver.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Wednesday announced that loans up to Rs 2 lakh will be waived off completely and the amount exceeding the ceiling will also be waived if the farmers deposit half the amount. Nath said he has spoken to banks in this regard but did not elaborate on the number of potential beneficiaries or the burden on banks.
The Chief Minister made the announcement while talking to members of Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (RKMS), a farmers’ organisation that had threatened to take to the streets between June 1 and June 5 to highlight farmers’ issues such as incomplete loan waiver and seek their redressal.
The RKMS withdrew its proposed stir after the government announced setting up of a state-level committee that will act as a bridge between farmers and the government. The Chief Minister also announced setting up of district-level committees to address grievances related to the loan waiver scheme.
The steps promised by the government and the unilateral announcement of withdrawal of strike by RKMS forced Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), another organisation whose members began a stir on Wednesday, to also call off its protest. The BKU had announced blockade of commodities like milk and vegetables from Wednesday to Friday.
Anil Yadav of the BKU accused the RKMS of scuttling the agitation started by the BKU by playing into the hands of the government. “How can an organisation withdraw an agitation that is yet to begin?,’’ he asked, alleging that the announcements caused confusion among farmers forcing the BKU to also fall in line.