NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi government is bracing up to deliver on its Uttar Pradesh poll promise of waiving off loans taken by small and marginal farmers. BJP chief Amit Shah has said the first Cabinet meeting of the BJP-led government in Uttar Pradesh will approve the loan waiver promise.
The state machinery is expected to begin the process of calculating the amount of loans to be waived once the state Cabinet is formed.
The farm loan waiver scheme of the Manmohan Singh government in 2008 had cost a little over Rs 60,000 crore to the exchequer.
However, the Centre is apprehensive that if it waives of agricultural loans in Uttar Pradesh, farmers across the country will start demanding waiver of their loans as well.
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis led a delegation to Union Minister of Finance Arun Jaitley and his counterpart in Ministry of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh bid to press for debt waiver for his state’s farmers.
“In a few months, demand for a pan-India scheme for loan waiver will gain momentum. Some ministers believe farmers were badly hit between 2014-16 on account of lesser and unseasonal rains, and hailstorms. A loan waiver for farmers across the country is not unreasonable,” said a NITI Aayog official.
A section of BJP leaders claim the Prime Minister committing himself to the farm loan waiver turned the tide in its favour in Uttar Pradesh.
“The plot more or less could remain the same for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The government can avoid leakages as seen in the farm loan waiver of the Manmohan Singh government in 2008. It could be limited only to the small and marginal farmers by capping land holding size to just three acres. Thus, the government could take the stress off from the back of genuine indebted farmers,” said a BJP leader.