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BJP’s poll promise in UP turns into political trap in Maha
Rohit Chandavarkar | Saturday, 18 March 2017 AT 12:13 AM IST
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State Bank of India Chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya is in the eye of a storm. A couple of days ago Bhattacharya spoke out against the idea of waiving off loans to the farmers and mentioned that it would set a very wrong precedent and would be damaging for the investor sentiment if such a step is taken. Suddenly the opposition parties in Maharashtra rushed to her office and agitated against her on Thursday and on Friday they went a step further and actually filed a breach of privilege motion against her.

The MLAs moved the motion against Arundhati Bhattacharya for “insulting farmers and the House” through her remarks on loan waiver. The Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Assembly, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said he has submitted the notice to Speaker Haribhau Bagde as “Bhattacharya did not apologise for her remarks despite the Congress’ demand.” The senior Congress leader said he has described Bhattacharya’s comments as “insulting to farmers, elected representatives and the House” in the notice.

The Opposition Congress and NCP have been demanding a complete loan waiver for farmers by raising the issue in the legislature. The SBI chief had recently said that farm loan waivers upset credit discipline. “We feel that in case of a (farm) loan waiver, there is always a fall in credit discipline because the people who get the waiver have expectations of future waivers as well. Such future loans often remain unpaid,” Bhattacharya had said on sidelines of an event in Mumbai.

Just a day earlier, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis gave an account of the state’s financial status and made it very clear that loan waiver for farmers is not possible in the current fiscal situation. If the state chief minister says it on record in the assembly it is more or less clear that the state will not be able to give any relief on this front to the farmers. The Congress and NCP ruled the state for close to 15 years before the BJP took over in 2014 so these opposition parties too very well know how it is next to impossible to give waiver to the farmers yet this is now being converted into a political issue. And the fodder for this came from the BJP itself which promised loan waiver to farmers in Uttar Pradesh in the run up to the assembly polls there!  

The country is just reeling out of the effects of demonetisation and this hardly is the time to raise political issues which will     put pressure on the government to take populist economic decisions.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in the assembly on Thursday that the opposition was raising the farm loan waiver issue only to divert attention from the cooperative banks scam which took place in the state. He does have a point in that the farmers in Maharashtra have been looted of thousands of crores during the Congress-NCP regime through scams that happened in the cooperative sector. Many cooperative organisations are on the verge of collapse because of these scams and now it’s ironical that the Congress and NCP are now demanding farm loan waivers. If the cooperative sector would have been properly nurtured by the Congress and NCP in 15 years of their regime between 1999 and 2014 perhaps farmers in Maharashtra would have been in much better situation and loan waiver would not have been needed at all.


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