Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday tore into NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s claim of Rs 72,000 crore farm loan waiver during his tenure as the Union agriculture minister in the UPA government, saying the real figure did not cross Rs 52,000 crore.
Armed with a comparative chart of loan waivers received by farmers under the current state government and previous Congress-NCP-led regime, Fadnavis said under him Rs 24,000 crore loan waiver was extended to farmers.
At back-to-back rallies at Chikhali (Buldhana) and Tellari (Akola), he said: “The state government has given Rs 24,000 crore loan waiver, which benefited 51 lakh farmers. In Buldhana district, we have given Rs 2,609 crore loan waiver to farmers, while in Akola, the loan waiver amount was Rs 1,227 crore. Whereas, during the Congress and NCP regime, the total loan waiver in these two districts was a meagre Rs 255 crore and Rs 421 crore, respectively.”
The chief minister claimed that under the Congress and NCP, loan waiver “never exceeded Rs 8,000 crore in Maharashtra”.
“The NCP president, Sharad Pawar, boasts of Rs 72,000 crore loan waiver. But the truth is, it never crossed Rs 52,000 crore for entire country,” he said at a rally at Jijau Nagar in Chikhali taluka in Buldhana.
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Responding to the opposition’s sustained attacked on the agrarian policies of the ruling dispensation ahead of the second phase of elections (April 18) across parts of Vidarbha, Marathwada and western Maharashtra — mostly rural economies — Fadnavis said unlike in past, when middle agents exploited the system to pocket funds meant for the small and marginal farmers, the loan waiver scheme under him had tickled down to the real beneficiaries.
“The loan waiver of Maharashtra government is biggest ever given by any government in country. Moreover, even after 18 months, we gave kept it opened-ended to ensure that not a single eligible farmer is denied benefit under the scheme,” he said.
Referring to his government’s commitment to a drought-free Maharashtra by 2019-end, Fadnavis said that through “five lakh Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan (water conservation scheme) we gave brought water to dry, barren lands across drought-hit districts”.
The chief minister also accused the opposition of serving the interests of Pakistan. “The opposition has promised to reduce the deployment of Army in Jammu and Kashmir… I would like to ask the Opposition parties, whose interest are you serving by promising to withdraw the Army from strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir? Are you here to serve Pakistan or look after the welfare of India.”
Referring to the terrorist attack in Pulwama that left 40 CRPF personnel dead, he said: “When our Prime Minister showed the political will through the surgical and aerial strikes, instead of appreciating, the Opposition raised questions”.
He said that the Opposition’s design to undermine Modi will boomerang. “After all people, including the youth, know the potential of New India under the leadership of Modi. The 2019 elections are not about political parties. It is not about whether Devendra Fadnavis remains CM or not. Nor about individual candidates in fray. Every vote for Modi is reiterating our pledge for a stronger India,” Fadnavis said.