Congress, NCP up ante against BJP govt over farm loans in Maharashtra | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Congress, NCP up ante against BJP govt over farm loans in Maharashtra

Senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar gave the Fadnavis government a three-day ultimatum to make a decision

mumbai Updated: Apr 10, 2017 07:23 IST
Faisal Malik
NCP chief Sharad Pawar (extreme right) with Congress leader Ashok Chavan (second from right) and NCP leaders Sunil Tatkare and Ajit Pawar (extreme left) at a rally in Panvel.
NCP chief Sharad Pawar (extreme right) with Congress leader Ashok Chavan (second from right) and NCP leaders Sunil Tatkare and Ajit Pawar (extreme left) at a rally in Panvel.

With the new UP government’s decision to waive farm loans and the Madras high court asking the Tamil Nadu government to do the same, pressure is mounting on the BJP-led Maharashtra government to consider the move for Maharastra’s farmers. Opposition parties have taken an aggressive stance on the issue with senior NCP leader and former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar giving the Fadnavis government a three-day ultimatum to make a decision. Its ruling partner — the Shiv Sena — also wants the loans waived.

Farmers in the state are in distress for many reasons — falling prices of their produce, unseasonal rains, hailstorm and acute water crisis.  

The loan waiver demand gained momentum when Opposition parties took up the issue seriously. They, along with the Sena, disrupted budget session proceedings in the state legislature. Taking an aggressive stand, the Congress and the NCP then tried to disrupt presentation of the state budget for the next fiscal year. 

Following the suspension of their 19 legislators in the state Assembly, six opposition parties collaborated for the first time to organise a ‘Sangharsh Yatra’ (struggle march) demanding a loan waiver and covered sensitive districts of the state where farmer suicides are comparatively higher. 

At the concluding event of the movement at Panvel on Tuesday, Ajit gave an ultimatum to the government to take a decision in the next three days or call a special session of the state legislature to discuss issues the farmers are facing. “If UP government can waive Rs30,000 crore farm loans why not the state government,” he questioned. 

While addressing a rally, NCP president Sharad Pawar said he would intensify the movement by organising more rallies and accused the Fadnavis government of not keeping its waiver promise made in the run up to the state Assembly polls in 2014. 

He said the Centre is writing off loans of industrialists as NPA (non-performance asset), but doesn't want to do the same for farmers. “Around 20 public sector banks haven't recovered bad debt of Rs2,80,494 crore from industrialists then why can’t loans of Rs30,000-40,000 crore be waived off,” he asked. 

While Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said the state government should follow the footsteps of the UP government and waive off loans of the farmers. “Farmers in the state are committing suicides thus farm loan waiver is the need of the hour. We want their 7/11 extract free from debt,” Thackeray said. 

Chief minister has repeatedly said the move is financially unviable for the government as it will bring a burden of Rs 30,500 crore on the state exchequer. The state government has also requested the Centre to provide financial help to get this done.