Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday, launched a farm loan interest waiver scheme that he claimed would benefit over 11 lakh farmers in the State.
He blamed the previous Congress government for “making farmers default on loans”.
Under the Mukhyamantri Krishak Byaaj Maafi Yojana-2023 or the Chief Minister Farmer Loan Waiver Scheme, the State government will compensate the defaulter farmers, who have outstanding loans of up to ₹2 lakh including the principal and interest as on March 31, 2023, from Primary Agricultural Credit Cooperative Societies (PACS).
“The previous government [a reference to the Congress government that ruled between 2018 and 2020] cheated the farmers in the name of loan waiver and made them defaulters. They announced that they would waive loans for farmers within ten days but waived only ₹6,000 crore out of 48,000 crore in 1.25 years,” said Mr. Chouhan at Sagar where the formal launch event was held.
“Our government will pay the interest amount of each such farmer, so that they do not remain defaulters and can get the benefit of crop loan scheme at 0% interest,” he said of the scheme under which outstanding amounts of ₹2,123 crore would be waived off for 11,19,000 farmers.
These farmers are those who have defaulted on loans from the Primary Agricultural Credit Societies, affiliated to District Cooperative Central Banks. Under the scheme, short-term crop as well as short-term loans, which have been converted into medium-term loans due to natural calamities, are also included.
Senior journalist Rakesh Dixit feels that the move is aimed at attracting voters from the rural seats which account for nearly 170 of the 230 Assembly segments.
“Last time, the Congress had scored big in the rural centres helping them win 114 seats and tasted power for a while. However, the State has had a history of announcing such farmer-specific waivers in election years since the 1990s and the fine print needs to be seen to ascertain how many people are actually benefited eventually. In the past, we have seen that the caveats and riders filter out a large number of intended beneficiaries in farm-related or even other schemes such as the Ladli Behna scheme for women,” he said.
Mr. Dixit and Chandrakant Gour the State secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, a farmers’ organisation politically linked to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, pegged the percentage of agricultural families in the State’s voting population around 69%-70%.
According to Mr. Gour, the State has only given the benefits to defaulters who took loans from cooperative banks whereas many who borrowed money from nationalised banks have been left out.
He added that with two elections [the 2023 Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections next year] crucial for the BJP, the agriculture sector’s wrath can throw up “unexpected results”, even as he spoke of a demonstration took up by the farmers in Bhopal last November. Back then, nearly 15,000 farmers had thronged the State capital with a list of demands and almost all of those remained unmet, he added.
“Our government will pay the interest amount of each such farmer, so that they do not remain defaulters and can get the benefit of crop loan scheme at 0% interest”Shivraj Singh ChouhanMadhya Pradesh Chief Minister