New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi was quick to claim credit on Wednesday over the farm loan waivers announced by his party’s governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
“It’s done! Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh have waived farm loans. We asked for 10 days. We did it in 2,” he tweeted, hours after Ashok Gehlot government in Rajasthan announced waiver of farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh.
In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Chief Ministers Kamal Nath and Bhupesh Baghel signed off on the waiver hours after taking oath on Monday.
In Rajasthan, the Ashok Gehlot-led government had sought 10 days to announce the waiver, but did it within two days.
Under the scheme, loans upto Rs. 2 lakh will be waived at the cost of Rs. 18,000 crore to the state.
Since Monday, Rahul Gandhi has been repeatedly referring to loan waivers by his party’s governments, challenging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to do the same in other states. A cellphone video shot outside parliament show him telling reporters, “Dekha aapne? Aapne dekha? Shuru ho gaya na kaam?(You see? Haven’t we started work?)”.
Gandhi had on Tuesday tweeted that his party had managed to “wake up” chief ministers of Assam and Gujarat who have waived farm loans and unpaid rural power bills, respectively, in their states, and said it was now time for “sleeping” Prime Minister Narendra Modi to wake up.
On Wednesday morning, Gandhi tweeted a dig at two BJP-led state governments that were seen as trying to catch up with the Congress. While Assam said it would waive farm loans, Gujarat did write off rural electricity bills to the tune of Rs. 650 crore.
Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar, however, said a loan waiver is just a temporary reprieve for farmers. “It is not a solution to farm sector distress. It is not a solution but is palliative,” said Kumar. Even the country’s auditor, the Comptroller and Auditor General said loan waivers don’t help, he added.
“In poorer states, only 10-15 per cent of farmers are benefited from loan waiver as few number of farmers get institutional loans in such states. In many states, not even 25 per cent of farmers avail institutional credit,” pointed out Niti Aayog Member and agriculture policy expert Ramesh Chand.