Loan-waiver promise helped Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh

Tilting the fortunes: Rahul Gandhi campaigning in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh on October 6.  

At campaign rallies across Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Congress promise of a farm loan waiver got it much applause and seems to have contributed heavily to its performance in the Hindi heartland.

The BJP has appeared reluctant to offer the palliative (with the exception of limited waivers in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and after much soul searching, in Maharashtra).

Reluctant BJP

As a policy measure, the BJP declares that it is uncomfortable with farm loan waivers and only announced one in its manifesto for Uttar Pradesh in 2017 after a State-wide survey assured the party that it would be a game-changer. “Farm loan waivers are at best a temporary solution,” Virendra Singh Mast, chief of the party’s Kisan Morcha, said just a week ago at a press meeting.

In the BJP headquarters on Tuesday afternoon, there was some mulling over the issue, but old positions are still being emphasised.

“Instead of a farm loan waiver as a panacea, we have to focus on the procurement process. There is a gap there that needs to be plugged. Even the announcement of hikes in minimum support price is not as important as streamlining procurement,” said Gopal Krishna Agarwal, chief of the party’s economic cell.

Mr. Agarwal rued what he termed as the overturning of the electoral narrative from the policy decisions taken by the BJP governments to other issues. “While we start off with talking about policy initiatives by our governments, we get sucked into the Opposition’s campaigns based on caste and community issues. We have to find a way of keeping the narrative focussed,” he said.

The Gujarat polls first indicated a rural-urban divide in voting that was not favourable for the BJP.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 8:58:33 PM |

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