Staff Correspondent

CHANDIGARH: The Shiromani Akali Dal has demanded that the entire debt of Punjab's farmers running into crores be written off following the example set by the waiver of the Special Term Loan (STL) by the then Prime Minister I.K. Gujral.

"A Special Term Loan of Rs. 8,700 crore was waived off in a single stroke by the Union Government following Prime Ministerial intervention in the teeth of opposition from several policy makers and bureaucrats. A similarly bold approach is needed now to address the problem of the farmers' indebtedness. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh must follow the example of his predecessor to camp in Delhi and return only after he has got the Prime Minister to agree to the waiver," the party general secretary and MP, Sukhbir Singh Badal, said in a statement issued here on Wednesday.

The Akali leader said his party had discussed the issue with a number of experts, including some eminent international farm economists, and they were convinced that bureaucratic obstinacy, lack of political will and vision rather than economic dynamics were the real hurdles in the way of solving this problem.

Claiming that the Akali Dal had a definite plan on the subject and would implement it as a top priority item if it returned to power in the State, he even offered to help Chief Minister Amarinder Singh "if he approaches us with a genuine query based on a sincere desire for helping the farmers".