The Uttar Pradesh cabinet will hold its first meeting on April 4 during which a decision on farm loan waiver, the BJP’s biggest poll promise, could be taken.
A proposal of write off farmer loans had been sent to the cabinet, agriculture minister Surya Pratap Shahi told media in Varanasi on Sunday.
The BJP surprised everyone when it named 44-year-old Hindu hardliner Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister after a massive win in the state election. Adityanath took oath of office on March 19 but has not held a cabinet meeting so far.
“The meeting will take place at 5pm on Tuesday,” health minister Siddharth Nath Singh said, without sharing any details.
The BJP, in its Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (manifesto), had promised to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, said in his election speeches that loan relief would be among the foremost tasks of the state government.
According to officials, there are around 23 million farmers in the state and 22 million of them were “small and marginal”.
They suffered losses due to natural calamities in the recent past and were unable to repay loans amounting to about ₹62,000 crore.
As the figure is huge, the Uttar Pradesh government is mulling various options, including raising loans, to honour the party’s poll promise.
Finance minister Rajesh Agarwal was talking to his senior officials in this regard, a department spokesman said.
The government would have to pay off the banks and for that it would have to either seek funds from the Centre or raise loans on its own, the spokesman said.
It would be difficult to handle the burden in a single financial year, sources said.
Listing steps being taken to help farmers, Shahi said the wheat procurement target was doubled to 80 lakh metric tonnes from 40 lakh metric tonnes.
Some other decisions, too, would be taken during the meeting, deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said in Allahabad, adding the government would try to fulfil all its promises at the earliest.
One of the first decisions of the Adityanath government saw meat traders across the state going on strike against the crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses and butcher shops.
Uttar Pradesh is the country’s biggest meat producer and also accounts for half of India’s exports.
The strike was to end Sunday.
(With PTI inputs)