Jaitley Says 'No Loan Waivers', Farmers to Burn Effigy With 'We Are Not Beggars'
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
NEW DELHI: Just as Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was breathing a sigh of relief having somewhat sorted out the farmers agitation with a loans waiver promise, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley queered the pitch by saying that the centre will not be part of this.
"This issue (loan waiver) has cropped up in several states. The Centre has its policies for agriculture sector under which we provide interest subvention and other support. We will continue to give all that,” he said.
"If a state has its own resources and want to go ahead in that direction, it will have to find its resources. The situation where the Centre will help one state and not the others will not arise," Jaitley said.
The All India Kisan Sabha is the first farmers body to respond to this with a “farmers are not begging for favours, but are demanding their rights.” The planned one day protest on June 16 by farmers across the country has again acquired new teeth with an announcement that effigies of the Finance Minister will be burnt.
AIKS has asked the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, the two BJP ruled states to have agreed to waiving farmers loans to respond “ to the insensitive stand of Arun Jaitley.”
The BJP at the centre seems to have been caught off guard by the decision of UP CM Yogi Adityanath to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers. This has fed into the peasants stir in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh where 8 farmers were killed at Mandsaur in police firing, with Fadnavis being left with little choice but to agree to waive the loans as well. However, the modalities of this were to be worked out with NCP leader Sharad Pawar telling a meeting of farmers yesterday that he was sceptical about how this would play out on the ground.
AIKS has stated, “Farmers are not begging for any favour but are demanding their rights. The Central Government has the responsibility to ensure MS Swaminathan Commission's recommendation of MSP at 50%above cost of Production for all crops. In the last three years rule of BJP led NDA Government the Finance Minister miserably failed to do so. The farmers are indebted due to the wrong policies of the government.’
MS Swaminathan told The Citizen in an interview from London that loan waivers were not enough to tackle the growing agrarian distress, and the slew of measures suggested in his report should be taken on board. The Congress had appointed the Commission and then ignored its recommendations. The BJP had taken it up during the election campaign, but forgotten the issue after coming to power.
Loan waivers has become the immediate demand now across India, although as Swaminathan and agricultural expert P.Sainath pointed out it is not a long term solution. In fact not a solution at all, except temporarily alleviating the distress and giving the cash strapped farmers a fresh start provided all the necessary measures kick in. There is no indication that any government---central or state---is prepared to take a holistic look at the deepening agrarian crisis till date.
Loan waiver was raised by Punjab Chief Minister Amrinder Singh in his first meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently. The farmers in Gujarat, Rajasthan have also raised the issue and are expected to be part of the next stage of protest, with June 16 being fixed as farmers protest day across India.
Jaitley’s statement, compounded further by the silence of PM Modi on this issue, has now complicated matters for the states. In particularly the BJP ruled states that are currently facing the worst end of the farmers stick.