BENGALURU: Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday announced waiver of short-term farm loans of up to Rs 50,000 borrowed by farmers from co-operative banks and institutions till June 20. Karnataka’s decision has come two days after the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab announced waiving of loans up to Rs 2 lakh borrowed by small and marginal farmers. Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra governments too had earlier announced similar waivers.
Making the announcement in the Assembly, Siddaramaiah said the decision will benefit 22,27,506 farmers in the state. “The necessary directions to this effect will be issued soon. Loans worth Rs 8,165cr will be waived. We know that empowering farmers is empowering Karnataka. We have always come to the rescue of our distressed farmers,” Siddaramaiah said to loud applause and thumping of desks from treasury benches.
The Chief Minister, however, admitted that the gesture would benefit only about 20% of farmers as 80% of the farmers have availed loans from regional and nationalised banks.
Siddaramaiah challenged Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar and other BJP leaders to convince the Modi government at the Centre to make a similar gesture and waive farm loans disbursed by nationalised banks so that the benefit could cover all farmers in the state.
“I met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and even wrote to the Centre pleading for farm loan waiver. But the Union government did not respond. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, rejecting the demand, made it clear the Centre would not provide a single rupee for farm loan waiver and asked state governments to bear the entire burden,” he said.
As the BJP members tried to counter the Chief Minister, ruling Congress members shouted “shame shame BJP,” stating that the previous UPA government at the Centre had waived farm loans of Rs 72,000cr in 2008. Shettar’s efforts to blunt the attack by citing he too had waived farm loans totalling Rs 3,600cr in 2012 proved futile as Congress members heckled BJP members.