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Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot blames Centre for state govt’s failure to waive farmers’ loans

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Jaipur: On the completion of two years of his government in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday sought to blame the Centre for the failure of the Congress‘ poll promise to waive farmers’ loans from various nationalised and commercial banks.

Claiming that he has waived Rs 15,000 crore of farmers’ loans from the state’s cooperative banks, the chief minister, while talking to reporters in Delhi, said he has been unable to waive loans from various nationalised and commercial banks owing to the lack of cooperation from the Centre.

He said the nationalised banks come under the purview of the Centre which is dithering on directing banks to waive their loans to farmers.

“We have waived farmers’ loans from cooperatives banks but nationalised banks comes under the Centre and the RBI. They are not able to waive loans as the Centre is not talking to them (for it),” Gehlot told reporters in reply to a query on the issue.

“We have written a letter to the Prime Minister to direct nationalised banks to waive-off farmers’ loans just like state government did. They have not decided on it as yet. So, the fault is of the Centre,” Gehlot asserted.

State Cooperative Minister Udaylal Anjana said due to lack of cooperation from the nationalised banks, the waiving of loans taken from them has not happened as yet.

“The state government will do its part if we get cooperation from the nationalised banks. Waiving loans taken from the nationalised and commercial banks is possible if banks agree to waive a part of it. If they do it, the government can give a fixed percentage of the amount,” Anjana told reporters.

Cooperative Registrar Muktanand Agarwal said the issue of waiving loans of nationalised banks is not related to the state Cooperative Department.

“The issue of nationalised banks is not related to the Cooperative Department. The domain of Cooperative Department is limited to cooperative banks. Meanwhile, the state government has cleared its point of view on this issue,” Agarwal said.

Ahead of the Rajasthan assembly elections in 2018, former Congress President Rahul Gandhi had promised to waive farmers’ loans within 10 days, if his party is voted to power in the state.

After the Congress emerged victorious, an order issued by the State Cooperative Department on December 19, 2018 said all short-term crop loans availed by eligible farmers from state cooperative banks, outstanding as on November 30, 2018 would be waived off.

The order added that loans waivers from all nationalised banks, scheduled banks and regional rural banks would apply to “financially weak” and “defaulting farmers” up to Rs 2 lakh.

It said it was applicable for short-term crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh availed from all nationalised banks, scheduled banks and regional rural banks which were overdue as on November 30, 2018.

As per the Cooperative Department, the state government has waived short-term crop loans of Rs 15,000 crore of 20.81 lakh farmers.

Meanwhile, opposition BJP has been hammering the Congress government on the issue for long.

BJP state president said the then Congress president had promised that its government will waive entire loans of farmers within 10 days of assuming power.

“It was a temptation because of which people voted for the Congress. Now, they are realising it was a fake promise. Its effect can be seen in the result of panchayat elections in the state, which he Congress lost, Poonia said.

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