After Rahul Gandhi’s loan waiver promise, farmers stop repayments: Report

A number of farmers in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh have stopped repaying loans after Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s promise to waive loans up to Rs 2 lakh if the Congress government comes to power, The Times of India reported.

According to the report, farm loan repayments have dropped by over 10 percent across the state. “Yes, there has been a 10 percent decline in loan recoveries over the past six months. Whether it is due to the Congress poll promise to waive loan, I won’t say…” Mahendra Dixit, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) for banking operations at MP State Cooperative Bank told the newspaper.

Dixit admitted that the decline is ‘abnormal’ since the crops have been good, there has been excessive procurement and farmers received money under the Bhavantar scheme as well. “In such a situation, a 10 percent drop is obviously because of some other reason,” Dixit said.

A DGM-rank official at a nationalised bank said they are not sure of the reasons behind this decline. “At the time of election, you can’t be tough with them either. Let’s wait for the election outcome,” he said.

Gandhi has been consistent in his rallies on Congress’ commitment to waive off farmer loans within 10 days of the party’s government coming to power. The Grand Old Party has also stated the same in its manifesto.

As per the report, farmer leaders across party lines admitted that farmers who have been repaying loans regularly have stopped doing so after Gandhi’s announcement.

Providing the Punjab example, which Gandhi has repeated often during his rallies, rebel Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) leader Shiv Kumar Sharma said that while the BJP government had promised a loan waiver three times, the party never carried it out. “The Congress, during the UPA government’s tenure, had waived loans to the tune of Rs 74,000 crore. They are doing it in Punjab as well. Naturally, a section of farmers have discontinued repayment of loans, preferring to wait,” Sharma said.

“Loan waiver seldom do any good to honest farmers who want to pay off loans. It always benefits defaulters,” former BKS District President Mishrilal Rajput told the newspaper. “Helping someone in distress is one thing but there should also be incentives for hardworking farmers. If the government could also ensure remunerative prices for our products, loan waivers would not be required at all,” he added.

The President of MP Kisan Congress, Dinesh Gurjar, said farmers’ reaction is ‘not unnatural’. “Farmers have full faith in Rahul Gandhi and they know their loans will be waived once Congress comes to power,” Gurjar said.

The farming community makes up about 70 percent of Madhya Pradesh’s electorate and both the Congress and the BJP have been trying to woo them over to their side.