Gujarat government waives off Rs 650 crore rural electricity bills
The BJP-led government in Gujarat announced on Tuesday it will waive off electricity bills of connection holders in rural areas to the tune of Rs 650 crore, a day after the Congress dispensation in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh ordered a farm loan waiver within hours of taking charge.
The chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath waived the outstanding short-term crop loans of farmers up to Rs 2 lakh as on March 31, 2018, taken from nationalised and the cooperative banks, in his first decision within two hours of assuming office which will benefit as many as 3.4 million farmers.
And his counterpart in Chhattisgarh Bhupesh Bhagel, who too took charge on Monday, followed suit and announced his government will waive farm loans worth Rs 6,100 crore of around 1.66 million farmers.
And on Tuesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi renewed his attack on the BJP-led national coalition over the plight of farmers and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of worrying only about wealthy businessmen.
“Congress and all opposition parties will force Modi to give farm loan waiver to farmers… Will not allow Modi to sleep till he waives the loan,” Gandhi said on Parliament House premises on Tuesday.
The move has put the Bhartiya Janata Party governments at the Centre and states under pressure ahead of the Lok Sabha elections next year.
“Total 6.22 lakh connection holders in rural areas across the state will be benefited with this waiver to the tune of Rs 650 crore pending electricity bills,” Gujarat’s energy minister Saurabh Patel said.
The minister said these connections were cut off due to power theft and non-payment of bills. “These are domestic, agricultural as well as commercial connections,” Patel said.
The Congress and Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel have been demanding loan waiver for farmers in Prime Minister Modi’s home state for some time now, cornering the Vijay Rupani-led government in Gujarat.
The agrarian distress led to the BJP’s worse performance in over decades when it barely managed to win 99 seats in the 182-member assembly in state elections last year.