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Will Yogi waive off farmers' loan in 1st cabinet meeting?

April 02, 2017 20:08 IST

Two weeks after taking oath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will hold the first meeting of his cabinet on April 4. Key issues in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s poll manifesto, especially farmers’ loan waiver, could be taken up at the meeting.

“The cabinet meeting will be held in the evening on April 4,” state Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh told reporters in Lucknow.

He, however, did not elaborate on the issues to be taken up during the meeting.

“The agenda has not been finalised so far,” he said.

The BJP, in its Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (manifesto), had promised to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in his election speeches that writing off farmers’ loans would be among the foremost tasks of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.

Modi had promised during his election campaign that a decision on loan waiver would be taken at the first cabinet meeting of the BJP government in the state.

According to officials, there are around 2.30 crore farmers in Uttar Pradesh of whom, around 2.15 crore fall in the ‘small and marginal’ category.

They had suffered losses due to natural calamities in the recent past and were unable to repay loans amounting to about Rs 62,000 crore.

As the figure is huge, the Uttar Pradesh government is mulling various options, including raising loans, to honour the saffron party’s commitment to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers.

A state finance department spokesman said Finance Minister Rajesh Agarwal has already started deliberations with senior officials of his department in this regard.

The government will have to pay the banks to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers and for that, it will have to either seek funds from the Centre or raise loans on its own, the spokesman said.

“Such decisions are not taken in haste. I can assure (you) that the decision would be taken soon and a large number of farmers would be benefited,” state Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said.

“The state government is seriously working on this front and a concrete decision would be taken soon. We are working to evolve the best possible solution,” the minister had said last week.

Sources in the government said it would be difficult to handle the burden of loan waiver in a single financial year.

They added that it was one of the reasons for putting the cabinet meeting on hold till some way was found to honour the prime minister’s poll promise that the BJP government would take a decision on farmers’ loan waiver at its first cabinet meeting.

Some officers were of the opinion that a decision in this regard could be taken and a policy formulated later, but the chief minister insisted that the decision be made once the policy was clear, so that there were no hurdles.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said the promises made in the BJP’s manifesto for the state assembly election will be on the agenda of the Yogi Adityanath government’s first cabinet meeting, scheduled to be held at Lucknow on Tuesday.

“Decisions on a number of important issues will be taken at the cabinet meeting on April 4. The focus will be on honouring the promises made in the party’s sankalp patra (manifesto),” he told reporters in Allahabad.

Maurya, however, declined to comment when asked if farm loan waiver would be on the agenda of the meeting.

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