Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has lambasted the Akalis, AAP and certain Kisan Unions for spreading false propaganda on the farm debt waiver promise, which his government had started implementing from five districts today.Addressing a massive gathering at the launch of his government’s historic farm debt waiver scheme here, the Chief Minister referred to yesterday’s reported suicide of a Barnala farmer to point to the extent of shameless mis-propaganda which the opposition parties and some of the unions had unleashed. Captain Amarinder categorically denied any such suicide on account of non-inclusion of the farmer’s name in the waiver list. The farmer’s name was included in the list from Barnala, he said, adding that it was obvious that a fraudulent campaign had been launched by vested interests.The Chief Minister questioned the Akalis, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and some Kisan Unions, which were behind the propaganda campaign, on how they expected his government to give out more than it could afford to. The fiscal crisis facing the state was much graver than the Congress had envisaged before the elections, he said, adding that despite the problems, his government had found ways of launching the debt waiver scheme, as promised in the poll manifesto of the Congress.
Captain Amarinder cited figures to point out that not only had his government announced higher loan waiver than other states, including the BJP-ruled ones, but had, in fact, done so despite the huge financial constraints faced by it. He gave the examples of Maharashtra (upto Rs 1.5 lakh), UP (upto Rs 1 lakh), Rajasthan (upto Rs 50000), MP (upto Rs 1 lakh) and Karnataka (upto Rs 50000).
His government had fulfilled another major promise with this launch, said the chief minister, as he symbolically handed over waiver certificates to 10 farmers from the five districts of Mansa, Bathinda, Faridkot, Muktsar and Moga.The nearly 47000 farmers who had taken loans from 701 Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies of the five districts were getting their money in their bank accounts, he said, describing the launch as a beginning towards solving the problems that were causing farmers to commit suicide. A total of 5.63 lakh farmers will benefit in the first phase, which will provide relief to the tune of Rs 2700 crores.Acknowledging that some farmers could and might have got left out due to technical errors, Captain Amarinder said these issues were being resolved and those who still ended up with complaints should approach their respective SDMs or DCs, whom he had personally directed to resolve any such issues at the earliest. No eligible farmer will be excluded from the waiver exercise, he assured the people, adding that he was personally keeping tabs on the disbursementsAsserting that he wanted the poor farmers in the state, which has 17.5 lakh farming families to benefit under the scheme, the Chief Minister said 10.25 lakh farmers were being covered, which only left out the bigger farmers. He himself was a big farmer and others like him, including Parkash Singh Badal, could manage to look after themselves, said Captain Amarinder.
The Chief Minister said the entire loan waiver process would be completed in four phases and his government would find ways and means of making it happen, despite not getting any help from the Centre. He had personally had several meetings with the central government to seek support in debt waiver but the Centre had not extended any help in this matter to any state. Despite this, however, he did not allow himself to be deterred from fulfilling this vital promise made to the farmers, Captain Amarinder added.Reiterating his government’s commitment to the uplift of the beleaguered farmers, the Chief Minister pointed out that the state had witnessed record production this year, including of cotton. He assured the farmers that he would ensure that they do not face any problems, and promised that even the farm labourers would be taken care of once the state’s fiscal condition stabilizes.Describing Captain Amarinder as a man of his word, whom people swear by as an epitome of commitment and sincerity, PPCC president Sunil Jakhar said Parkash Singh Badal was resorting to dirty politics over the debt waiver issue. Badal had earlier tried to mislead the people saying Captain Amarinder will not fulfill this particular promise and was now trying to cover up his embarrassment by saying Rs 2 lakhs is not enough for the farmers.
Unlike other parties and leaders, the Congress does not indulge in ‘jumley ki rajneeti’ (politics of false claims and dialogues), he added. Pointing out that former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh waived loans worth Rs 90000 crore, Jakhar said Captain Amarinder set the ball rolling in Punjab, forcing other states, including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, to follow.Jakhar lashed out at Badal and the Akalis for befooling people in the name of Panth and Kisans, doing nothing for farmers and putting the state in deep debt. Captain Amarinder, who feels the pain of farmers, has done in 10 months what the Akalis failed to do in 10 years. The Akalis were hungry only for money, he said, adding that those politicizing the issue and misleading the farmers were doing a great disservice to Punjab.Notwithstanding political differences with the Congress, the Badals should not mislead the farmers to promote their vested interest. In fact, Parkash Singh Badal should congratulate the Chief Minister and offer to support the ruling party’s efforts to seek waiver from the central government, Jakhar said.Jakhar pointed to the record procurement that had taken place this year, under the Captain Amarinder regime, and referred to the debt of Rs. 46,000 crore on the state when Captain Amarinder led Congress government demitted office in 2007, as against the debt trap of over Rs. 2 lakh crore by the end of 2017.The PPPCC chief called for implementation of the Swaminathan report to alleviate the woes of the farmers in the long term. He lambasted the central government for failing to double the income of the farmers, as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In his welcome address, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said that despite the poor fiscal health of the state, Captain Amarinder Singh had honoured his government’s commitment to launch the debt relief for farmers. He further pointed out that the previous government led by Parkash Singh Badal did nothing tangible to improve the economic lot of the farmers. Bajwa demanded to know what Badal’s government got from the Centre, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for Punjab’s farmers in the past 10 years.While proposing a vote of thanks at the conclusion of the launch ceremony, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said that his entire team of Cabinet colleagues along with party MLAs were committed to fulfilling all the promises made to the people of Punjab. He said that the state government was earnestly making all efforts to bring fiscal prudence for ensuring economic stability in the state.On the occasion, the Chief Minister launched a massive development programme for the repair and upgradation of 16000 kms of link roads at a cost of Rs. 2000 crore. This gigantic project would be executed by the Punjab Mandi Board and completed by March 31, 2019. Captain Amarinder pointed out that these link roads, which were critical for the farmers to take their produce to the Mandis, were last repaired during his earlier tenure and were in desperate need of renovationProminent amongst others who attended the function were Deputy Speaker Punjab Vidhan Sabha Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Cabinet Ministers Rana Gurjit Singh, Sadhu Singh Dharmsot, Aruna Chaudary, Media Advisor to CM Raveen Thukral, Chairman, Punjab Mandi Board Lal Singh besides several Congress party MLAs, leaders and workers.