Punjab 2017

A mountain of debt and a raft of promises in this green belt

Clutching at straws: Punjab’s farmers doubt if deserving debtors will benefit from loan waivers.   | Photo Credit: AKHILESH KUMAR

Despite rural debt accruing to a massive ₹67,000 crore in Punjab, the farmers in the State are far from enthusiastic about the promises to waive loans made by the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party.

At Mohi Kalan village on the outskirts of Chandigarh, Manpreet Singh (35) recently paid an instalment of ₹38,000 towards repayment of a tractor loan. The young farmer is not keen on a loan waiver as he thinks it discourages those prompt on repayment.

“I don’t believe that the Congress or the AAP are going to waive farm loans. It’s just a ploy to fetch votes. Even if they implement the promise, there will be so many conditions that most deserving farmers will not get any benefit,” Mr. Singh, who has sown wheat on nearly six acres, told The Hindu.

Challenge to Akalis

The ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine has been facing the farmers’ wrath, given the crisis in agriculture, particularly after the alleged “spurious pesticide scam” that badly hurt the cotton belt.

Tijender Singh (32), a farmer of Dharamgarh village in Banur, who has taken a ₹2 lakh loan from a local cooperative society, dismisses talk of a farm loan waiver as just a political stunt. He believes that the AAP could be trusted because its promises are yet to be tested.

The Congress has launched a Karza Kurki Khatam, Fasal di Poori Rakam (End to debt burden, full value for harvest) campaign. Punjab Congress president Amarinder says over 30 lakh farmers have sought debt waiver.

At his recent meetings, Arvind Kejriwal, AAP’s national convener and Delhi Chief Minister, said the days of farmers’ woes were coming to an end as an AAP government would take over the reins in Punjab.

The party released a separate farmers’ manifesto. “We will ensure loan waiver within a year or two and implement the Swaminathan Committee’s report within three years,” Mr. Kejriwal said.

The ruling Akali Dal has accused the Opposition of misleading the people on the debt waiver issue.

Competitive populism

Pramod Kumar, director of the Institute for Development and Communication, Chandigarh, told The Hindu, “Competitive populism is not going to give an edge to any party in the upcoming polls. It’s the issues relating to governance, identity, sacrilege, etc., are likely to influence the voters’ decisions.”

“Punjab’s green revolution was a technological solution for a food crises that helped to uplift the peasantry of Punjab, but later it declined dramatically. Farmers in Punjab now need a long-term solution such as land reforms, diversification etc. to address their problems and not just farm loan waivers,” said Ashutosh Kumar, Professor of Political Science at Panjab University.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 7:22:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/punjab-2017/A-mountain-of-debt-and-a-raft-of-promises-in-this-green-belt/article17047540.ece

Next Story