3 Cong CMs take oath, 2 waive off farm loans

Rahul attends all events; allies show unity.

Bhopal/Jaipur/Raipur: Soon after three Congress chief ministers took the oath of office on Monday in three previously BJP-ruled Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in ceremonies that turned into a show of strength against the saffron party, a campaign promise by party president Rahul Gandhi to waive farm loans was honoured in two states.

After MP governor Anandiben Patel administered the oath to Kamal Nath, whom the late Indira Gandhi used to describe as her “third son”, the new chief minister signed an order waiving loans of up to Rs 2 lakh of farmers in the state. During campaigning, Mr Gandhi had pledged implementation of the loan waiver within 10 days of coming to power.

The waiver is estimated to cost the state exchequer around Rs 56,000 crore.

Late evening, Chhattisgarh’s new chief minister Bhupesh Baghel also announced that his government will waive short-term agricultural loans of farmers.

Short-term agriculture loans, taken by over 16.65 lakh farmers from cooperative banks and Chhattisgarh Gramin Banks as on November 30, 2018, will be completely waived, Mr Baghel said. The loans amount to over Rs 6,100 crore. The swearing-in ceremonies in all three states took place in the presence of senior Opposition leaders.

Mr Nath, nine-time Chhindwara MP, was sworn in as Madhya Pradesh’s 18th chief minister in Bhopal on Monday afternoon, in the presence of a galaxy of leaders including Mr Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the chief ministers of two southern states and leaders of some regional parties.

In another major decision, Mr Nath ordered a hike in the incentives for beneficiaries under “Kanyadan” scheme of the state government from Rs 28,000 to Rs 51,000 each. Girls from below poverty line (BPL) families are given the incentive during their marriage under the scheme. “I will implement each and every promise made in the election manifesto of my party," he said while addressing a press conference after taking office.

Taking a jibe at the experts who opposed loan waivers, Mr Nath quipped, "I would like to ask the banks and economists if it does not bother (them) when (they) write off huge loans of industries. But you get stomach ache when it comes to waiving the loans of farmers."

Mr Nath is expected to contest soon from an Assembly seat under his Lok Sabha constituency to enter the MP Assembly.

Mr Nath's swearing-in was held in the shadow of protests over his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, in which his party colleague Sajjan Kumar was convicted and given a "whole life" sentence. Mr Nath has denied any role in the violence and the Nanavati Commission, that probed the 1984 riots, had also given him the benefit of the doubt.

On Monday, Ashok Gehlot was the first of the three CMs to be sworn in, as Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh administered the oath at the historic Albert Hall in Jaipur as state Congress chief Sachin Pilot was appointed deputy chief minister.

In Chhattisgarh, Mr Baghel was sworn in as CM by governor Anandiben Patel while MLAs T.S. Singh Deo and Tamradhwaj Sahu, who were among the frontrunners for the CM's post, were sworn in as ministers.

Mr Gandhi along with former PM Manmohan Singh and several senior Congress leaders attended all the three ceremonies.

The leaders of several Opposition parties, including the Nantionalist Congress Party, Telugu Desam Party, National Conference, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (Secular) and Loktantrik Janata Dal were present at these ceremonies, but the heads of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Trinamul Congress were not there. DMK president M.K. Stalin, who had on Sunday proposed the name of Mr Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of the proposed anti-BJP front, was also present.

Next Story