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Karnataka farmers to protest against Kumaraswamy govt over loan waiver delay

Farmers are agitated over newly-elected chief minister HD Kumaraswamy not holding up his promise of waiving loans within the first 24 hours of his taking oath as CM.

karnataka Updated: Jun 18, 2018 20:31 IST
Vikram Gopal
Vikram Gopal
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Karnataka,Kumaraswamy,Farm loan waiver
Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy has sought a 50% waiver of the Rs 53,000 crore of loans that he had promised to set aside in the party’s manifesto.(Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

Farmers in Karnataka’s Mandya district are set to hold a protest on Tuesday against the chief minister HD Kumaraswamy led Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government over the delay announcing a complete farm loan waiver.

What has added to the anger against Kumaraswamy in a district where his party won all the seven seats on offer, is his appeal to the central government on Sunday to waive half the Rs 53,000 crore of loans that he had promised to set aside in the party’s manifesto.

“Kumaraswamy’s promised farm loan waiver has resulted in uncertainty on credit availability for sowing,” said Somanahalli Suresh, who is a member of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, an organisation of medium and large landholders.

“Either the chief minister must announce the farm loan waiver package, which he promised to do within 24 hours of swearing in, or he should at least ensure that credit for this season is made available soon,” Suresh said.

However, the protest is not supported by another faction of the KRRS. Kodihalli Chandrashekhar, president of the KRRS, said while his faction does not support the protest, they are equally running out of patience with the government.

“It is foolish for the chief minister to expect the central government to provide assistance, especially when it did not provide any monetary support for states governed by it,” Chandrashekhar said. “The only reason we have not joined the protests is because the chief minister has asked for us to give him time till the Budget, likely to be announced in July, to come out with details on the scheme.”

Meanwhile, there has been no let up in pressure from the BJP on the issue. Senior leader KS Eshwarappa said the party was only holding the JD(S) to its promise. “Kumaraswamy said in the assembly last year that the state government must waive loans on its own, when former chief minister Siddaramaiah had similarly asked the Centre to step in. Now, this applies to him as well,” he said.

Eshwarappa said the JD(S) was to blame for the situation because it had made very tall promises and now it had to stick by them. “If he cannot deliver, let him admit that there is no value to be attached to the JD(S)’s manifesto,” he said.

With the monsoon deliver copious amounts of rains to the state, water levels have risen in almost all reservoirs, farmers are waiting for the provision of credit to begin sowing, which picks up by the beginning of July in the state.

This being the case, the Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha, a farmers’ body affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has said that it does not support any promise of a farm loan waiver. “Waivers benefit large farmers over smaller farmers and do not reduce the indebtedness of the farmers,” said T Yeshwanth, the Mandya district in-charge for the KPRS.

First Published: Jun 18, 2018 20:31 IST