Farm loan waiver demands rocks Uttarakhand assembly
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Farm loan waiver demands rocks Uttarakhand assembly

dehradun Updated: Jun 14, 2017 21:01 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand,Indira Hridayesh,farmers

Congress state president Pritam Singh and Leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh arrive at the Uttarakhand assembly, in Dehradun on Wednesday.(Vinay Santosh Kumar/HT)

DEHRADUN: Amid ongoing farmer protests across the country, the contentious issue of farm loan waiver reached the Uttarakhand assembly Wednesday with the opposition Congress demanding that the BJP government write off the loans of the state farmers.

The Congress claimed that not doing so would be a breach of a pre-poll promise made by the prime minister.

The House witnessed unruly scenes, four adjournments and a walkout as Congress members insisted on a debate on the farmer woes and loan waiver for them even as the ruling BJP remained non-committal saying it had five years to resolve the issue.

Soon after the House assembled at 11am, Leader of Opposition Indira Hridayesh raised the issue saying if Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath could announce a loan waiver for farmers at the very first meeting of his Cabinet, why the same can’t be done in Uttarakhand. “You got a massive mandate in both the states then why is there a discrimination against Uttarakhand,” she said.

Hridayesh urged Speaker Premchand Aggrawal to allow a discussion on the issue under rule 310.

Initiating the discussion on the admissibility of her notice, Hridayesh said the prime minister had made a promise to the farmers that their loans would be waived off and they would get correct price for agricultural produce. “The plight of farmers in the state is known to everybody. The state government should immediately waive off their loan,” she demanded. “Farmers in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have been given a loan waiver. I think the voice of a small state like Uttarakhand is being suppressed.”

The Congress leader said farmers in Uttarakhand were restive as agriculture fetched them hardly any return, partly owing to climate change and partly due to wild animals damaging crops. Claiming that various farmer unions have asked for loan waiver, Hridayesh said the state government should “concede” the demand before the agitated farmers were forced to hit the streets. “In fact, they have already started agitating in Roorkee.”

The Speaker said though the issue was important, it could not be debated under rule 310 at the expense of the Question Hour. “We will admit your notification for a debate on loan waiver under rule 58,” he said.

Hridayesh refused to budge and Congress members trooped into the Well raising slogans and alleging that the state government was “anti-farmer” and dictatorial.

Amid the din, the Speaker urged Hridayesh to instruct the Congress members return to seats. With his repeated request failing to have any impact, Aggrawal adjourned the House first for 15 minutes, and then twice again till 11:45pm. As the House, resembled the Congress MLAs staged a sit-in at the Well demanding a debate.

As the Opposition continued to disrupt, parliamentary affairs minister Prakash Pant said the Congress’ demand for loan waiver was a ruse to disturb the proceedings. Subsequently, the Speaker again adjourned the House till the Zero Hour began. When the House met, Aggrawal allowed a debate under rule 310 on condition that the Opposition notification wouldn’t be accepted.

Congress MLA Harish Dhami attacked chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat for ruling out a loan waiver to farmers citing paucity of resources at the state’s disposal.

Hridayesh chipped in saying the Centre should extend a helping hand to states, which are short of resources and can ill-afford a loan waiver, including Uttarakhand. “If they don’t give a loan waiver to farmers, it will be tantamount to belying a pre-poll promise by the PM,” she said.

“Farmers in different parts of the country continue to be in a bad shape. They are committing suicide and are being fired upon,” she added, referring to the police firing on protesting farmers in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur.

Another Congress member, Qazi Nizamuddin, said loan waiver would be a huge relief for farmers who are migrating due to un-remunerative farming.

Replying to the debate, Pant said farmers’ issues were a result of the previous Congress government’s failure to resolve them. He said 6.99 lakh small and marginalised farmers have taken bank loans. “We have a strategy in place and have five years to resolve their issues,” he added.

Unsatisfied with the reply, the Opposition members staged a walkout.

First Published: Jun 14, 2017 21:01 IST