‘Even God would have failed’: MP minister says loan waiver promise was a fraud by Congress
Farmers welfare and agriculture development minister in Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet, Kamal Patel, dubbed the previous Congress government’s farmers loan waiver scheme ‘a fraud’ committed on farmers while dropping enough hints that the present BJP government is not going to continue with the scheme.
In the run-up to 2018 assembly elections, the Congress party had promised to waive loan of farmers up to Rs 2 lakh per head. The then Congress president Rahul Gandhi had backed that commitment by claiming that if Congress failed in keeping its promise within the first 10 days of coming to power, the chief minister would lose his post.
After coming to power, the Congress launched ‘Jai kisan fasal rin maafi yojna’ to implement loan-waiver promise for about 5 million farmers to the tune of approximately Rs 55,000 crore. It added a rider that the loan waiver scheme will be implemented in phases with farmers having loans up to Rs 50,000 per head to be covered in the first phase and no waiver of loans for income tax payee farmers.
The then government claimed to have waived off loans of 2 million farmers, worth approximately Rs 7,000 crore, in the first phase until March, 2019. The then chief minister Kamal Nath announced that about 1.2 million farmers would benefit from loan waiver of Rs 11,675 crore in the second phase that began as late as in December 2019.
In an interview, Kamal Patel likened the Congress’ promises to that of a leader from his district, Harda, who used to contest assembly elections as an independent candidate with lofty promises to bring back India’s looted gold and silver from England, making temples of gold and people’s houses with silver and of making air travel so convenient that people could land helicopters in their fields to curb road accidents.
“Congress knew it was not going to win the elections. It had won 58 seats in 2013 assembly elections and feared that due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s welfare initiative, it might not win even 20 seats; hence they decided to tell lies only. The Congress Vachan patra (election manifesto) was full of promises to such an extent that even God would not have been able to fulfill it had he got down to Earth”, said the minister.
Kamal Patel said, “The Congress tried to lure every section of the society. Farmers were promised Rs 2 lakh per head loan waiver that meant the waiver amount will multiply several times depending upon loan takers in a family. They promised Rs 4,000 per month to unemployed youths, Rs 1,000 pension to the physically challenged, regularisation of services to daily wagers and guest faculty in degree colleges and many other promises. Was this not fraud and deceit? That’s why I asked farmers to go and lodge FIR against the Congress leaders for committing fraud on them with a criminal conspiracy.”
The minister said the BJP government was working on making farmers self-reliant so that they wouldn’t need loans.
“In just two months, the BJP government headed by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had taken several decisions to increase income of farmers and make them self-reliant. The bar on the maximum amount of weighing of the agriculture produce at mandis had been done away with. This would save farmers’ diesel and time worth crores of rupees. Similarly, raising the limit of procurement for gram, lentil and mustard from 15 quintal to 20 quintal per hectare has resulted in additional income of Rs 762 crore to the farmers.
Hitting back, the then agriculture minister Sachin Yadav said Congress’ loan waiver scheme was a response to farmers suicide during BJP’s 15-year rule in the state. He claimed the Congress government was going to launch the third phase of loan waivers from June 1 before it got toppled.
“I challenge chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and agriculture minister Kamal Patel to tour the state with me to know the reality. The fact is, during the BJP’s regime of 15 years, Madhya Pradesh had earned a bad name as a state with highest number of farmers’ suicide cases due to wrong policies of the BJP. We waived loans worth Rs 11,500 crore of 2.66 million farmers in the first and the second phase and we were going to launch the third phase from June 1.”
He added, “People are highly upset with the BJP government and will give a befitting reply to it in the ensuing bypolls in the state.”
The state Congress spokesperson Abhay Dubey echoed the sentiment.
“We had handed over a list of 21 lakh farmers to Shivraj Singh Chouhan ji at his bungalow when he was in the Opposition. There was no statement from him on this. But no one can help if BJP has decided to only tell lies. Congress will be back in power after the bypolls for 24 assembly seats and will not only waive the remaining farmers’ loans but also transfer some monthly amount in the bank accounts of migrant labourers,” he claimed.