Farmer protests: Under fire, Maharashtra hints at partial loan write-off

MUMBAI: Stunned by the response to the strike launched by the farmers to press their demand for a complete loan waiver, the state government is drafting an ambitious plan to grant partial relief to the agitating farmers.

However, the protesters have planned to intensify their stir and announced a statewide bandh on Monday .

While the CM did not respond to TOI, a senior official said a plan has been drafted for providing partial relief.”Our debt burden has crossed the Rs one lakh crore mark. If we waive loans, then it will result in an additional burden of Rs 1.34 lakh crore. It will not be advisable to accept the demand of a complete loan waiver,” he said.

The official said it has been proposed to grant relief to farmers, who have been adversely affected by drought and natural calamities. “As many as 31 lakh farmers were hit by calamities and we have proposed to provide relief to them. For the remaining 1.31 crore farmers, who are not defaulters, a proposal in connection with repayment of loans is on cards,” he said.

The official said Fadnavis will meet the farmers’ representatives on Saturday and brief them on his plan to grant relief.

The ruling BJP regime–particularly chief minister Devendra Fadnavis–is receiving flak for its handling of the cultivators’ agitation from friends and foes alike.Fadnavis seems to be isolated on the issue with his alliance partners striking a discordant note.

While the Shiv Sena (an ally of the state government) said it extended support to the protest, the Congress asked Fadnavis to introspect instead of levelling allegations of instigating farmers.

On Thursday , Fadnavis had termed the stir politically motivated. “Fadnavis has raised questions over the integrity of farmers through his allegations. Instead of levelling unsubstantiated allegations against the Opposition, the CM should introspect what made farmers lose their trust in the government,” said state Congress chief Ashok Chavan.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar blamed the BJP-led government for the farmers’ strike.”In Uttar Pradesh, the BJPled government has waived the loans, then why is it not possible in Maharashtra. Before the elections, the BJP had assured that farmers will be given guarantee price as per the recommendations of the Swaminathan committee. Unfortunately , after the polls, Fadnavis has forgotten the assurance,” Pawar said.

The government came in for some friendly fire from the Sena. “The government should not forget that we fought for the same demands while we were in opposition,” said Sena MP Sanjay Raut.The opposition wants Fadna vis to convene an assembly session to address all these issues. MNS chief Raj Thackeray slammed the state government for turning a blind eye to farmers’ woes. “The BJP made a false promise to farmers, during the 2014 polls, that it would waive off their loans if it assumed office in the state. Now, three years on, the BJP is not willing to redeem its poll pledge.They have cheated the farmers and the people of Maharashtra,” Raj said.
“Loan amnesty alone will not help resolve the crisis.The state has failed to provide good infrastructure to farmers,” he added.
Share Now