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Government should not treat farmers as vote banks: Congress

Government should not treat farmers as vote banks: Congress

Yielding to pressure from farmer groups, opposition parties and farm loan waiver decisions in other states, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday announced waiver off Rs8,165 crore worth of crop loans borrowed by farmers from cooperative banks. In a tweet, Siddaramaiah said that loans availed by farmers till June 20, 2017, from cooperative banks would be waived.

The chief minister's decision to waive off farmers' loans up to Rs 50,000 will benefit around 22, 27, 506 farmers in the state.

Admitting that the loan waiver would impact the state's finances, Siddaramaiah, who also holds the Finance portfolio, said that as the farmers were in distress due to drought, it was his government's duty to respond to their plight. The government has chose to frame a board of trustees to set the criteria to waive of loans.

"With Centre distancing itself from the stance taken by states on the farm loan waiver front and proceeds from GST uncertain in initial period and the implementation of UDAY bonds, states will have a tough task cut out for them if they want to achieve the budgeted deficit of 3 per cent", SBI Research said.

While talking on the floor of the house, Siddaramaiah throws a challenge to the BJP to persuade the Central government to waive off the rest of the loans in the nationalized banks. Thus farmers who had applied loan after this date will become ineligible for waiver.

Making the announcements during his speech in the Vidhan Sabha, the Chief Minister said the move would benefit a total of 10.25 lakh farmers, including 8.75 lakh farmers up to 5 acres.




The Chief Minister and Congress MLAs also chided BJP over the Centre being non-committal on the issue.

Karnataka is the third state to announce waiver after Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Punjab.

"Waiving crop loans of up to Rs 50,000 is not a big achievement". Many other states charge for electricity from farmers, whereas in Karnataka, the government pays on behalf of the farmers.

Karnataka has been reeling under drought for the past two years.

Earlier this month, the Maharashtra government announced it will waive Rs 30,500 crore of loans taken by small and marginal farmers.

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