Devendra Fadnavis turns tables on opposition, says state’s finances won’t permit a total write off.
Mumbai: Taking the opposition by surprise on the issue of loan waiver for farmers, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday turned the tables by asking them whether they can guarantee that farmer suicide will stop after waiving off their loans. He said, “After loans were waived off in 2008 (by the UPA I government), 16,000 farmers committed suicide till 2014. So, it is proved now that by just waiving off loans you cannot stop suicides. You need to create a mechanism that can help farmers.”
The chief minister further demanded answers from the opposition, asking, “Do you guarantee that farmers will stop killing themselves just after loans are waived off ?”
Citing the financial incapability of the state to completely waive off the loans, Mr Fadnavis assured some kind of relief through the budget to farmers of Maharashtra.
Mr Fadnavis had to finally come before the House on Thursday to clarify his government’s stand on the loan waiver issue after the first seven days of the budget session were washed out over the opposition’s demand for one.
“We need Rs 30,500 crore to waive off loans of 31,57,000 farmers whose loans have been overdue for various reasons. As of now the state does not have this much of fund. But we are firm on our resolution to make farmers debtless,” Mr Fadnavis said in the Assembly on Thursday.
However, following the CM’s statement an aggressive opposition and BJP’s ally Shiv Sena protested in the Well of the House till adjournment.
Taking note of the constant attack by the opposition as well as Sena, Mr Fadnavis made a detailed statement on Thursday. He said, “Total 1.36 crore farmers in the state have taken loans of Rs 1.14 thousand crore. Out of these Rs 63,000 crore are agricultural loans and Rs 51,000 crore are other loans. Out of 1.36 crore farmers, 31.57 lakh farmer’s loans are long overdue because of various reasons. Amount of these overdue loans goes up to Rs 30,500 thousand crore.”
Mr Fadnavis further said, “But the state is not in sound financial condition to waive off such a huge amount. Our total expenditure is about Rs 2.57 lakh thousand crore. Out of these Rs 1.32 lakh thousand crore is spent on salaries.
The Centre gives Rs 34,421 crore, which has to be spent on allotted works. The state also need to give Rs 10,460 crore to local bodies. So, out of Rs 2.57 lakh thousand crore, the state is left with only Rs 31,000 crore, which could be used on investment in infrastructure. In such a critical situation it will not be possible to waive off the entire loans of farmers on its own.”
But in an effort to find a way to help farmers, Mr Fadnavis also said he would talk to the Centre for financial aid. “We will discuss with the central finance and agriculture minister on this issue. We will meet them with a delegation to demand monetary help for the state to face this agricultural crisis,” he said.
The chief minister also lambasted the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party for misruling the state over 15 years. “Farmers are paying for your sins over 15 years. You have nothing to do with farmers. But through loan waiver you want to hide scams in cooperative banks,” charged the CM.