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Cong promise of farm loan waiver in MP a 'gimmick': Chouhan

twitter-logoPTI | November 27, 2018 | Updated 19:03 IST

Bhopal, Nov 27 (PTI) Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan Tuesday dismissed as a "gimmick" the Congress promise of a farm loan waiver if voted to power in the state and asserted the announcement will not affect the poll outcome. Chouhan said his government has already taken a slew of measures for the welfare of farmers in the state, which goes to the polls Wednesday to elect a new 230-member assembly. The BJP leader dismissed reports that farmers are holding back their paddy produce to reap the benefit of debt write off promised by the Congress in its manifesto and said procurement has been slow as harvesting began late in the state. Asked what impact the farm loan waiver promise of Congress will have on the polls, Chouhan said the opposition party's assurance to cultivators was just a "gimmick" and it would not have a bearing on the election outcome. "It (promise) won't cast its shadow on polls because the loans won't be waived in real term. They promised a loan waiver of Rs 58,000 crore which got confined to just Rs 2,500 crore in Punjab," the Chief Minister told PTI. "They (Congress) promised a loan waiver after coming to power in Karnataka. They have not done anything in this regard yet there," said Chouhan, who is seeking a fourth straight term in office. The 59-year-old CM, contesting from his traditional Budhni assembly seat in Sehore district, said the BJP government is providing remunerative prices to farmers for their produce and ensuring they don't fall in a debt trap. "The BJP government has deposited a whopping sum of Rs 32,701 crore in the accounts of farmers in Madhya Pradesh (under different welfare schemes meant for their uplift). "We are providing remunerative prices to farmers for their agriculture produce. We are going to give so much help to farmers that they don't get indebted," Chouhan said. The CM claimed farmers were in a far better position now than they were under the Congress rule. "Our loan scheme will be further improved to ensure no farmer remains indebted," he said, adding "farmers were being given loan at zero per cent rate which used to be 15 per cent during the Congress regime." Meanwhile, an IAS officer said paddy procurement started late in the state due to delay in harvesting by farmers amid the ongoing election season. "As Diwali was late this year (it was celebrated on November 7), farmers delayed their paddy harvesting. Farmers usually start their crop harvesting from `gyaras', the 11th day after Diwali in MP," the bureaucrat said. "Secondly, the election fever has gripped them (farmers) too. So the paddy procurement is going to pick up after tomorrow's elections," he said. However, a farmer leader claimed agriculturists are holding back their produce, hoping they will benefit if the Congress comes to power and grants loan waiver to them. "Farmers are holding back their paddy produce fearing if they sell it off as per minimum support price (MSP), their payment would be deposited in their accounts by government procurement agencies and banks would deduct their loan instalments," said Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh (RKMM) president Shivshanker Sharma. If loans are written off, farmers will not have to pay their instalments, he said. "If the Congress does not waive loans within 10 days of coming to power, as promised by its president Rahul Gandhi at public meetings, we will launch a protest," said Sharma, a former MP unit president of the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh. PTI LAL RSY RCJ

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