NEW DELHI: The BJP is doing a U-turn by scrapping farmers’ loans following ground-level information about demonetisation adversely impacting the voter-heavy rural sector. On the cards are interest-free floaters too. NITI Aayog, the agriculture ministry and senior ministers compiled reports on farming losses due to the cash crunch.
The UPA’s electorally successful farmers’ loan waiver scheme in 2008 was opposed by the BJP vociferously. As per the 70th round of the National Sample Survey Organisation report, the outstanding loans of 90.2 million agricultural households are around Rs 4.23 lakh crore.
“The government is considering waiving off loans where the minimum outstanding is Rs 50,000. Three-year interest-free loans for a minimum Rs 1 lakh are also on the cards. These will cost the state Rs 28,000 crore,” said a NITI Aayog official.
UPA’s populist loan waiver scheme cost the exchequer Rs 67,000 crore. “CAG reports pointed out that the bulk of the benefits were pocketed by agro-based companies. By ensuring that these companies are barred from availing the scheme benefits will bring down the cost compared to the UPA’s scheme,” said the official.
The government appears particularly worried by reports that farmers could not recover even the cost for their vegetable crops, and were taken for a ride by traders who bought Kharif crop at low rates by citing the demonetisation fallout.