Nagpur (Maharashtra), Dec 21 (IANS) In a significant move, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday announced a loan waiver for farmers who owe up to Rs 200,000 to banks till September 30 this year.
“This scheme, called ‘Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Farm Loan Waiver Scheme’ will be implemented from March 2020 onwards. The upper limit for the loan waiver will be Rs 2 Lakh,” Thackeray told mediapersons.
Thackeray’s much-anticipated and hotly-debated announcement was made on the last day of the winter session of Maharashtra Legislature and was welcomed by the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance of Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party and Congress.
However, Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party termed it as a betrayal of the farmers. Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis demanded a 100 per cent debt-waiver for the peasantry, before staging a walkout from the Assembly.
The Vasantarao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM) President Kishore Tiwari, enjoying a Minister of State status, welcomed what he termed “a bold decision with far-reaching ramifications” for the poor farmers in the state.
“The government will also work out a special scheme for those farmers who are repaying their loan dues on schedule. Farmers will not have to run around or stand in queues nor make applications,” Thackeray promised on the scheme, tentatively estimated to cost around Rs 40,000 crore to the state exchequer.
With a view to making the administration more decentralized, Thackeray also announced a scheme whereby the Chief Minister’s Office would go close to the citizens instead of the people rushing to the CMO in Mantralaya, in Mumbai.
“A small branch of the CMO, linked with the CMO Mumbai, will be set up in every district to handle the complaints and issues concerning the people. They need not trael long distances to Mumbai for their work now,” Thackeray said.
“It will be given directly to the farmers in a transparent manner and will wipe clean the loans of 90 per cent of the poor peasantry, particularly those falling in the suicide-prone zones. The remaining are the ‘creamy layer’ farmers who have availed of big loans and also have the capacity to repay,” Tiwari told IANS.
Thackeray said the scheme will be absolutely transparent and systematic with the money going directly into the beneficiary farmers’ bank accounts without having to make online applications, etc, which was mandated by the previous BJP-led Fadnavis regime.
Other farmer leaders such as Ajit Nawale of rued that instead of announcing a complete loan waiver for all farmers, the Thackeray government has kept a ceiling of Rs 200,000 with a cut-off date till September 30, 2019, and the farmers’ woes would not end.
It may be recalled that clearing the farm-loan debts was a major issue in the last two assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
While the BJP swept the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP-Sena combine came to power in 2014, but this time they split and the MVA government took over in November 2019.