In the run-up to state elections, the Congress has kept the promise of farm loan waiver in almost its every manifesto. In Rajasthan, the party in its manifesto has promised to waive off farmers’ loans within 10 days of coming to power. The party made a similar promise during its campaign in Karnataka state assembly elections. In Karnataka, Congress President Rahul Gandhi promised loan waiver for farmers within 10 days. Moreover, Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy and current CM had promised loan waiver within 24 hours of coming to power. It has been around six months since the Congress-JD(S) alliance came to power in the state, and now the farmers feel cheated.
The Congress-JD(S) government of Karnataka imposed as many as 11 conditions for getting the benefit of the loan waiver scheme. Earlier, the state government had said that it was committed to write-off only crop loans up to Rs 1 lakh issued by nationalised banks and cooperative societies until July 10.
The Times of India has quoted Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) president, Chamarasa Patil, saying, “In the first meeting he had convened in May, the chief minister had promised that loans would be waived in two phases. He had said in the first phase, crop loans would be waived and in the second phase, other loans would be waived. This made the farmers wait before paying their monthly installments and now they are in distress.”
The farm loan waiver scheme has not been entirely implemented in the state even in November, as according to the TOI report, farmers are being issued arrest warrants for not repaying their loans. Many Private Banks have gone to the extent of filing criminal cases against the defaulters on charges of dishonouring post-dated cheques. In Belagavi district, 160 suits have been filed and arrest warrants issued against 62 farmers. Private Banks have even seized the tractor of the farmers. President of the KSGA, Kuruburu Shanthakumar, said, “Such incidents are reported from across the state. The blames lies with the dithering government.”
According to a Deccan Herald report, the state government in its order had said that those farmers who have taken a loan on gold ornaments, or a vehicle loan or a loan to buy fodder or anything else will not get the benefit of the loan waiver scheme. The order also said that a farmer would not be eligible for the scheme if s/he has filed his/her income tax return for even one year during the last three years or has a job in the government or cooperative sector and gets a monthly salary of up to Rs 20,000. The order also said that small farmers should not have more than two hectares of land, their annual income should be less than Rs 1.25 lakh.
The Congress party wherever it is in power has failed to implement the loan waiver scheme properly but continues to make similar promises in other poll-bound states. The Congress treats farmers only as a vote bank and exploits their emotions to win the elections. Once the party emerges victorious, it very conveniently ignores concerns of the farmers.
The Congress made a similar promise of farm loan waiver in the run-up to Punjab state assembly elections. The party slogan was, “Kisaan ka karza maaf, bijli ka bill half aur MSP ka karo hisaab.” The party promised ‘complete’ farmer loan waiver, but after coming to power, it imposed many conditions for the farmers in order to avail the benefit. First, the Congress government said that only those farmers will get the benefit of the loan waiver scheme who own less than 2.5 hectares of land. Second, the Congress government declined to give benefits of loan waiver scheme to income tax paying farmers. Third, the state government said, it would write-off only those loans which have been taken from co-operative societies. Fourth, it also capped the limit of loan value at Rs 2 lakh.
The Congress has a very poor track record when it comes to fulfilling its promise of farm loan waiver. PM Modi himself exposed the reality of Congress’ promise of loan waiver by the Congress. In an election rally in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh, PM Modi said, “The Congress had promised farm loan waiver in Karnataka polls but never fulfilled the promise and now the debt-ridden farmers were running away from villages after notices.”
The Congress President, by making false promises, is only increasing troubles for the Congress party. Even if the Congress party manages to come to power in all the five poll-bound states on the plank of loan waiver, it would be almost impossible for its government to waive off all the farm loans in a short period of ten days. BJP might use it as an issue to question the credibility of Congress party and Rahul Gandhi ahead of the 2019 general elections. The false and misleading promises of the Congress party will come to haunt them ahead of the crucial battle of 2019 Lok Sabha elections.