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Congress assures loan waiver, free electricity to farmers, if voted to power in Gujarat

Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor. File

Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor. File | Photo Credit: PTI

The Congress on Friday promised that if the party is voted to power in Gujarat, where Assembly elections are due by year-end, it would waive farm loans of up to ₹3 lakh and provide free electricity for 10 hours daily to farmers in the State.

Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor also said that his party would bring a law to prohibit the purchase of farm produce below the minimum support price (MSP).

Notably, the Opposition party in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled State made these announcements days after the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made a host of promises, including free electricity of up to 300 units every month, and allowance for unemployed youth as well as women above the age of 18 years.

“We will also set up Agri Assistance Centres in each village to provide guidance to farmers”Jagdish ThakorGujarat Congress president

"Though the ruling BJP claims that Gujarat is a power-surplus State, farmers are not getting adequate electricity for agriculture. If Congress comes to power, it will provide free electricity to farmers for 10 hours, that too during the day. We will also withdraw penalties and cases of electricity theft lodged against farmers," Mr. Thakor said in a press conference here.

Other senior Congress leaders, such as Arjun Modhwadia and Tushar Chaudhary, held press conferences in Rajkot, Surat and Vadodara on Friday to make announcements on these promises.

`Reeling under debt’

"Farmers in Gujarat are reeling under huge debt. But instead of providing relief, the BJP had waived loans of industrialists. In the first cabinet meeting after coming to power, the Congress will make a decision to abolish all farm loans below ₹3 lakh," Mr. Thakor said.

Apart from bringing a law which would ban the purchase of farm produce below MSP, Mr. Thakor promised that the Congress government would also pay an additional ₹20 bonus on the purchase of 20 kg farm produce from farmers.

Other promises

Other promises made by the Congress include 33 per cent reservation for women in cooperative bodies in the State, change in laws to "free cooperative sector from the clutches of BJP" and a bonus of ₹5 per litre to cattle-rearers in addition to the milk procurement price.

Mr. Thakor said his party, which has been out of power since 1995 in Gujarat, will confer the status of 'farmer' to all the cattle-rearers, which will empower them to buy agricultural land.

Alleging irregularities and corruption in the preparation of new land records using satellite mapping by the Gujarat government, the Congress leader also promised to scrap it and conduct a fresh mapping exercise in a "scientific manner".

"We will also set up Agri Assistance Centres in each village to provide guidance to farmers. To help the cultivators in getting more income from their farm produce through value addition, we will set up agro-based MSME units in each taluka to process agricultural produce," said Mr. Thakor.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2022 1:36:36 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/congress-assures-loan-waiver-free-electricity-to-farmers-if-voted-to-power-in-gujarat/article65762664.ece