After Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan on Wednesday waived short-term crop loans from cooperative banks and loans of up to Rs 2 lakh taken by farmers from other banks. The state government will bear a burden of Rs 18,000 crore. The Congress, which won the recent assembly elections, had promised in its manifesto to waive farm loans. Congress president Rahul Gandhi had said this would be done within 10 days of the pary coming to power in the state. Ashok Gehlot told reporters the scheme will apply to farmers in debt till November 30.
It's done!— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 19, 2018
Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh have waived farm loans.
We asked for 10 days.
We did it in 2.
A roadmap has been prepared so that the officers face no problem in following the decision, Gehlot said. Gehlot attended office the first time on Wednesday but has held meetings with officials at his home after being sworn in on Monday. Farmers' short-term crop loans from cooperative banks will be waived. Along with this, farmers' loans of up to Rs 2 lakh from nationalised and other banks will also be waived, he said.
Targeting the previous government, Gehlot said it had waived short-term crop loan of only up to Rs 50,000 taken from cooperative banks. Now the Rs 50,000-limit has been removed, Gehlot said referring to the scheme the BJP government had announced earlier this year. He said the Vasundhara Raje government's scheme would have cost Rs 8,000 crore, but only Rs 2,000 were actually spent in writing off the loans. The remaining burden has been passed on to the new Congress government, he claimed. Gehlot said farmers unable to pay back their loans were committing suicide in the state.
The chief minister took charge of his office in the morning after offering flowers at an idol of Mahatma Gandhi and praying at a Ganesh temple on the secretariat premises.
After meetings with officials, he visited Governor Kalyan Singh and then returned to his office for another round of meetings. Chief Secretary D B Gupta, Principal Secretary to CM Kuldeep Ranka and officials from finance, cooperative and other departments attended the meetings. On Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi had said the opposition will not rest till the Narendra Modi government waives farm loans across the country.
In similar moves, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel on Monday, the day they took oaths. The Baghel government waived off farm loans of up to Rs 6,100 crore and increased the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy from Rs 1700 to Rs 2500 per quintal.
"Congress President Rahul Gandhi had announced that farm loans will be waived within 10 days and that Minimum Support Price (MSP) for maize will be increased to Rs 2500 from Rs 1700 per quintal. These two decisions have been taken today," Baghel had said.
Earlier in the day, Kamal Nath cleared the proposal of waiving farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh as promised by Congress president Rahul Gandhi ahead of assembly polls. Briefing the media at the state secretariat after taking charge as new chief minister, Nath said, "After taking the oath, I have cleared the first file related to writing off loans up to Rs two lakh". Nath was sworn in as the 18th chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.
It is widely believed the promise of farm loan waiver made by Rahul Gandhi helped the Congress to sweep both the heartland states where it was out of power for 15 long years.
In a nerve-wracking see-saw battle with the BJP, Congress on December 11 bagged 114 assembly seats and secured the support of seven more MLAs, Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and four independent MLAs, to cross the simple majority mark of 116 in the 230- member Madhya Pradesh Assembly.
In Chhattisgarh, it was a clean sweep for the Congress with wins in 68 out of the 90 assembly constituencies.
(With PTI inputs)