BHOPAL: The much awaited gift of farm loan waiver promised by Congress to farmers of Madhya Pradesh was ushered within two hours of state Congress chief Kamal Nath being sworn in as new chief minister of the central state on Monday.
After the completion of swearing in ceremony and seeing off all important guests, Nath went straight to inaugurate the new state secretariat building and assumed charge as the new CM.
He subsequently chaired a meeting of top bureaucrats, where he signed files pertaining to four important decisions. “The first file, I signed on pertained to fulfilling our poll promise of waiving off loans up to Rs 2 lakh that have been taken by farmers of the state from the government and cooperative banks. When we waived off agricultural loans during the previous UPA regime, it covered only defaulter farmers. But our present decision in MP will cover all defaulter and current farmers,” Nath told journalists.
The decision will cover all short term farm loans of nationalized and cooperative banks up to Rs 2 lakh limit as promised in the Congress’ Vachan Patra (poll manifesto).
“As 80% of agricultural loans are taken from government banks, hence I want to tell these banks, that when they waive off loans of industrialists (around 40%-50%), they have no problem. But when it comes to waiving off the loans of farmers, they start feeling the pain. Also, the economists who give lectures against loan waiver of farmers have hardly any knowledge of grass root realities of farmers and agriculture,” said Nath.
The file pertaining to the crucial decision mentioned that all short term crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh taken from nationalized and cooperative banks as on March 31, 2018 will be covered under the decision taken on Monday.
Reacting to the development, Congress national president Rahul Gandhi tweeted “CM, Madhya Pradesh, waives farm loans. I done, 2 to go.”
The promise of farm loan waiver was first made by Rahul Gandhi while addressing a gathering of farmers in Mandsaur on June 6, 2018, the first anniversary of killing of protesting farmers in police firing in Mandsaur district of West MP. Entire farmers movement of 2017 in MP largely revolved 3-4 demands, including waiving off farmers loans.
The decision will cover total crop/farm loans worth around Rs 50,000 crore. When told by scribes about finance minister of erstwhile BJP government Jayant Malaiya saying how will the new government fulfill its promises when the government treasury is empty, Nath said “we’re happy that the BJP has finally admitted that it has left the government coffers empty.”
The new MP CM also told journalists that decision was taken on Monday also to raise the incentive under the Kanya Vivah Scheme to Rs 51,000. Importantly, the Congress Vachan Patra had prominently included a Krishak Kanya Vivah Sahayata Yojana to help small and marginal farmers in the marriage of their daughters. An incentive amount of Rs 51,000 would be paid for marriage of daughter of every farmer who holds agricultural plot up to 2.5 acres, the manifesto had mentioned.
Also, a decision to establish four garment parks was taken, which will render both direct and indirect employment to population in MP. Further, it was decided that incentives and concessions which are rendered by the government to the new industries will now be allowed only, when 70% of jobs in these industries are provided to people from Madhya Pradesh and not from other states, like UP and Bihar. “We’ll make the necessary changes in the industrial investment policy of the state to ensure that incentives are given to those new industries only, which provide 70% jobs to residents of MP,” said Nath.
Banning RSS shakhas in government premises
When questioned by journalists about the poll promise of prohibiting RSS shakhas (camps) in government campuses and cancel government order giving permissions to government employees/officers to attend such camps, the CM said “it’s not a new beginning, same rule exists in Gujarat and the centre, why doesn’t the central government first change the rule.”
The promise mentioned in the Vachan Patra had triggered a major controversy ahead of assembly polls in the state.
His Cabinet/Council of Ministers
When questioned how crucial decisions were taken when the council of ministers were yet to be constituted and first meeting of new state cabinet was still to be held, Nath said “as of now I’m the cabinet. I’m yet to decide on council of ministers, will start working on it from Tuesday.”