As Congress promised farm loan waivers in previous assembly elections, it is important to look back whether the party delivered on the same promises in a state where the election took place comparatively earlier i.e. Karnataka or not. The Congress-JD(S) alliance announced farm loan waiver worth 44,000 crore rupees but so far, only 800 farmers have got its benefits in the last 4 months. Minister for Co-operation in H. D. Kumaraswamy cabinet, Bandeppa Kashempur admitted the delay in the legislative assembly and justified it with flimsy technical reasons. The Congress party includes farm loan waivers in almost its every election manifesto but fails to deliver efficiently on the promise. The state government of Karnataka expects to receive around 43 lakh loan waiver applications including 20 lakh from co-operative banks. The state government said it will release funds only after the cross verification of list submitted by farmers as well as banks and this has been touted as the main reason behind the delay.
A few weeks back, farmers in Karnataka led a rally to Bengaluru because the state government has still not delivered on the promise of ‘good days’ to farmers. The farmer issues remain the same, “While the government has announced the loan waiver, nationalized banks continue to give notices to farmers. The government must immediately sort out the issue. Farmers are being considered defaulters denying them new credit. This sowing season, farmers have fallen prey to moneylenders,” said K.T. Gangadhar, State president, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, a farmer organization. The farmers were angry over the ignorance of their demands and they wanted to meet CM at the Vidhan Sabha house. However, they were not allowed to meet the CM which further infuriated the farmers. “Mr. Kumaraswamy claims he is a son of the soil and had said he will remove the fence around Vidhana Soudha when he became CM. But neither today he is letting us in nor coming to us,” said a farmer leader.
The farmers’ distress in the state toppled the Congress party in the previous Vidhan Sabha election. The party emerged as the second largest party but made an alliance with JD(S) to keep BJP out of power. Despite BJP emerging as the largest party in the elections, it was kept out of power after the formation of a shrewd alliance between the Congress and JD(S). The farmers of the state were not happy with the then CM Siddaramaiah and voted him out of power. But again they have got a government with Congress as an integral part of it. HD Kumaraswamy is no better than a puppet as his party has only 37 seats in the Vidhan Sabha in comparison to Congress’ 80.
The Congress government across the country has not tried to genuinely solve farmers’ issues. The farmer distress did prevail for long in a state like Maharashtra where Congress ruled for almost one and a half decade. On the other hand, BJP ruled states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Chhattisgarh registered among the highest agricultural growth in the country. All three states maintained almost double-digit growth for more than a decade.
The investment in infrastructure especially, irrigation remained low under 10 years of the UPA government and it is suggestive of the fact that the Congress party did not try to address the structural issues of agriculture in the country. Now, Congress and alliance partners are going for populist schemes like farm loan waivers which will further be a burden on the budget and provide no solution to farmers’ issues. The worst part is that they are not even being able to implement even these populist schemes in an efficient manner.