Home Business Politics Shivraj attempts to counter Congress’s loan waivers with pro-farmer manifesto

Shivraj attempts to counter Congress’s loan waivers with pro-farmer manifesto

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BJP hopes to offset loan waiver promises with bonus payments
Congress had announced loan waivers within 10 days of being elected
PMO has allegedly prohibited BJP-led states from announcing loan waivers Amidst feedback that the Congress’s loan waiver scheme for farmers is finding a lot of traction within the farming community ahead of the assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party in Madhya Pradesh has come up with a plan for women and small and marginal farmers that the party hopes will blunt the potential electoral advantages flowing to the Congress.

The Congress manifesto stated that farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh from both state cooperative and nationalized banks will be written off. This is in response to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s announcement in June that the party would waive loans of farmers within ten days of it being voted to power in the state.

Keen to find an answer to the Congress announcement — which as per reports flowing in from various parts of the state has found resonance with farmers, the BJP’s manifesto- called the ‘Drishti Patra’ or vision document released on November 17 included a separate section for women and announcements pertaining to small and marginal farmers.

READ| Uncertain ride ahead for Shivraj as Madhya Pradesh gives mixed verdict on his popularity: PSE poll

Released in Bhopal in the presence union finance minister Arun Jaitley, the manifesto promises to give two-wheelers to girls who notch more than 75 per cent in school-leaving exams. Also, the BJP has promised a fixed amount of money to women landowners in their banks to encourage registration of land in the name of women. The ‘Nari Shakti Sankalp Patra’ includes about 50 announcements directly catering to women.

Incentive over handout

The BJP has also announced that small and marginal farmers would be given a per quintal amount equivalent to the bonus payable at the time of procurement of crops even when farmers do not sell the crop to the government. “Small and marginal farmers practice subsistence agriculture. They do not have anything left with them to sell and are denied the benefits of bonus payment. Under the Krishi Samriddhi Yojana, I will pay farmers an amount equal to what they would get a bonus if they had sold their entire crop to the government,” said CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

In other words, if the productivity of an acre of land has been fixed at 18 quintals per acre and the bonus payable is Rs 265 per quintal, the farmer would be credited an amount equal to the bonus payable on total production on his land if he were to sell his produce to the government. A farmer with 2 acres of land then would get 36×265 or Rs 9,540.

There are 60 lakh farmers in the states designated as small and marginal farmers out of the total 80 lakh cultivators.

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“I have spent Rs 32,000 crore on farmers on one year alone and have done way more than anyone else for farmers. I do not want to write off loans because that seems like a handout. I instead want to encourage farmers to produce more,” says Chouhan, explaining why he isn’t in favour of writing off loans.

The announcements for small and marginal farmers are a little complicated for the farmers to understand them and more over time is not a luxury that Chouhan has at his hands to explain it to farmers, although he makes it a point to mention it everywhere.

BJP says no to loan waivers

There is, however, an interesting theory doing the rounds about the loan waiver and why it hasn’t been announced by the BJP in MP. Apparently, the PMO has made it clear to BJP-ruled states that loan waivers should not be announced. The heat is being felt not only in MP but in Chhattisgarh as well.

READ| Chhattisgarh: Rahul promises loan waivers within 10 days, says money will come from Nirav Modi

There are a total of 77 lakh farmers have been issued Kisan credit cards of which 53 lakhs are issued by state cooperative banks and remaining by nationalized banks. A total of Rs 12,000 crore has been distributed as loans by state cooperative banks in 2016-17. Small and marginal farmers — the group being targeted by Shivraj Singh Chouhan for special treatment also have contracted loans of about Rs 5630 crore from the government.

READ| Flying kisses and I love yous are Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s new campaign arsenal

WATCH| Congress, BJP unveil promises ahead of elections in Madhya Pradesh https://www.indiatoday.in/elections/story/shivraj-attempts-to-counter-congress-s-loan-waivers-with-pro-farmer-manifesto-1395174-2018-11-24

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