- Ashok Gehlot said it would cost the state exchequer Rs 18,000 crore
- Rajasthan is the fourth state to waive farm loans after MP, Chhattisgarh and Assam
- Congress had pushed farm loan waiver as a major poll plank in its manifesto
JAIPUR: Chief minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday announced that farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh defaulted till November this year will be waived. The CM said it would cost the state exchequer Rs 18,000 crore.
Rajasthan is the fourth state to waive farm loans after Congress-held MP and Chhattisgarh and BJP-held Assam.
The state government was yet to release a formal order in this regard till late in the evening.
Congress had pushed farm loan waiver as a major poll plank in its manifesto but not specified limit of the loan that would be put aside. Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted after Gehlot’s announcement: “It’s done! Rajasthan, MP & Chhattisgarh have waived farm loans. We asked for 10 days. We did it in 2.” Deputy CM Sachin Pilot too tweeted: “Our government has announced loan waivers for farmers as was promised by Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Congress does what it says.”
BJP state president Madan Lal Saini said, “We will study in detail government order on farm loans to check if there are any hidden riders. The party will react after that only.” CM Gehlot met with chief secretary D B Gupta and senior officials of finance, cooperatives and agriculture departments through the day before announcing the loan waiver.
After the meetings ended, the CM told reporters, “The previous government went back on its words to farmers. It had announced waiver of farm loans up to Rs 50,000 but provisioned just Rs 2,000 crore for it instead of Rs 8,000 cr that would have been required to fulfil its promise. The BJP government, therefore, left a burden of Rs 6,000 crore on the present Congress government.”
Gehlot added, “Still we decided that… we will waive all short-term loans taken from cooperative banks. In addition, loans up to Rs 2 lakh will be waived for eligible farmers who took loans from nationalised, commercial or other banks but are unable to pay back. All this is for defaulters till November 30, 2018.” The chief minister said many farmers unable to pay back the loan took their own life under the previous BJP government. “Farmer suicides happened for the first time in Rajasthan,” Gehlot said.
He added, “Our government was committed to waive the farm loans as Congress president Rahul Gandhi had promised to do so within 10 days of the party forming the government in the state.”