The Congress governments are well known for manipulating people’s aspiration. In its election manifestos, the party frequently makes promises which are not feasible, for example, successive manifestos promised universal healthcare but it was not implemented in the last six decades. In a similar manner, the party promised farm loan waivers in Karnataka if elected back to power but it has not been done so far. Some people voted for the party with the hope that the party will deliver on its promise. But the Congress and JD(S) only seem to be cheating people in the name of a loan waiver. The government announced waiver of up to 1 lakh rupees of crop loans in case the loans are taken from nationalized or cooperative banks.
The alliance government put forward 11 conditions for a farmer to get the loan waiver. These 11 conditions were put to make the loan waiver more exclusionary as the state government does not have enough money to waive loans of all the farmers. The conditions include, the farmer must pay the outstanding amount over 1 lakh including the compounding interest to be eligible for the loan waiver. If a person has filed an income tax return in any of last three fiscal years would not qualify for a loan waiver. The farmers who have taken gold loans will also not be eligible for the scheme. A family member of the farmer can’t receive the loan waiver if the loanee farmer dies. The farmers who either have received vehicle loan or fodder loan will not be eligible for the waiver. Those working in cooperative or government sectors with a monthly salary of 20,000 rupees will also not be eligible for the loan.
These conditions were put to exclude as many people as possible from farm loan waiver. The state government presented the budget of 2.13 lakh crore rupees and put aside 34,000 crore rupees for loan waiver which is 16 percent of the state budget. The fiscal deficit of the state increased to 47,134 crore rupees from 40,753 crore rupees in the previous year’s budget. Total liabilities of the state increased to 2.92 lakh crore from 2.86 crores in the previous budget. So, the fact is that the Karnataka government does not have enough fiscal space to spend even 34,000 crore rupees because the state is already under huge debt. The state government is basically trying to save money so that it could act in a fiscally responsible manner.
Despite all the promises of solving farmer’s issues, the coalition government reduced the spending on agriculture from 9.2 percent of the total budget in last year to 8.9 percent in this budget.
Now, the coalition government is forced to deliver on its promise of farm loan waiver and therefore, it had to find a way to manipulate the waiver by putting various constraints. Congress used the same old technique of complicating access to loan waivers to confuse farmers. Now, the party might go to the media and say that it delivered on the promise but in reality, very few people got the benefit and money spent for the purpose is also very little.
The promise of a farm loan waiver could be a good example of how Congress makes populist promises despite being aware of the nuances of it. The party finds itself unable to deliver on all those promises. Earlier, in previous elections as well, the party promised universal school education, universal healthcare, food security, mobile phones, fast internet connections, white goods but they do not seem to be coming true. The fact remains that despite all these populist promises, the party delivered on very few.