Congress, BJP lock horns over crop loan waiver in M-P (Lead)



The Madhya Pradesh government and the opposition BJP on Tuesday battled over loan waivers for farmers, with the ruling Congress furnishing a list of those who benefited, while clarifying its poll promise was limited to crops loans, not "personal loans".

A number of Congress workers led by former Union Minister Suresh Pachauri went to the residence of former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Tuesday and handed over to him the list of 21 lakh farmers whose loans the government says it has waived off.

Pachauri said that a total of 55 lakh farmers in the state were eligible to avail the Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Debt Waiver scheme and so far, 21 lakh of them had benefited before the model code of conduct came into force on March 10. 

In response, the Bharatiya Janata Party presented some farmers who, it said, were still to avail the promised waiver.

Chief Minister Kamal Nath, however, hit back at the BJP and Chouhan for "spreading falsehoods to deceive people".

Addressing reporters at his residence, he said that the Congress had promised to waive off loans of up to Rs 2 lakhs for crops, not any other purpose.

"Congress had promised to waive crop loans and this undertaking has been met. The BJP is citing the case of one farmer in Khargone to claim that loan waivers have not taken place. This farmer had taken a loan to buy a tractor-trolley.... we had never said that we will waive such loans. Congress never promised that loans to buy tractor-trolleys, houses, for daughters' marriage will be waived off."

Accusing the BJP of "constantly misleading" the people, he said it is being said that the permission of the Election Commission for the loan waivers is not necessary. "In reality, the Election Commmission's order is necessary. The proof is in an Election Commission communication of Tuesday regarding loan waivers... It says that in the districts where the poll process is over, the funds can be transferred into the accounts of 4.83 lakh farmers."

Responding to Chouhan's allegations in order, Kamal Nath said that he acknowledges that are some problems in implementation of the loan waiver scheme. "One farmer has four bank accounts, this has to be checked... was it possible in the time the state government got before the model code came into force. Those whose loan amounted to Rs 2.5 lakh, they could not get the waiver certificate as there was still an outstanding amount...

The Chief Minister said that there were lakhs of farmers who had loans of more than Rs 2 lakh, "but a provision had been made for them too". "Whatever outstanding amount is left after the Rs 2 lakh, if the farmer pays half of it, he will receive the loan waiver certificate. For this, a one-time settlement has been done with the banks."

The Congress had made loan waivers a key promise in its manifesto for the December Assembly elections, and after Kamal Nath was sworn in as Chief Minister, he had signed an order for this purpose within two hours.  IANS