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Amarinder can’t waive farm loans: Sukhbir Singh Badal

Sukhbir said Amarinder had lied and deceived the farmers and even concocted forms which had no legal sanctity.

By: PTI | Chandigarh |
December 17, 2016 8:50:40 pm
Punjab polls, Arvind Kejriwal, AAP in Punjab Polls, Sukhbir Singh Badal, Badal on AAP, Badal talks about Kejriwal, Punjab election, indian express news Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. (File photo)

Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday said Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh “deliberately lied” by promising farmers a loan waiver which he cannot implement even if he comes to power. “You (Amarinder) promised farmers in Punjab that you would get their loans waived off when you come to power. However, even before the elections could be held you were seen at the PM’s door begging the Prime Minister to waive off these loans,” he said.

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Either Amarinder knew that he could not waive off the loans or he “deliberately lied” to the people of Punjab. “It is now up to you to come clean on this issue”, Sukhbir said while addressing newsmen here.

Yesterday, the Punjab Congress chief raised the issue of economic plight of debt-ridden Punjab farmers before Modi and sought his support to alleviate the debt and other woes of the farmers.

The SAD president said it was not the first time that the Congress had lied to the people by making tall promises.

“Earlier your (Congress) leaders promised people before the polls that they would give five acres of land free of cost to the landless but did nothing once elected to power,” he said.

He said it seemed Amarinder had bitten more than he could chew.

“Why didn’t you do anything on this front (farmers’ loan) during the ten year of UPA rule? Did you (Amarinder) even make a single representation to your own Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or your party president Sonia Gandhi on this issue”, he asked.

Sukhbir said, “Has any Congress government in a State made any effort to waive farmers’ dues?…Forget initiating any loan or even interest waiver exercise, you (Amarinder) even endangered the entire farm economy of Punjab by withdrawing the free power facility extended to farmers by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal,” he said. The SAD president termed the Amarinder’s meeting with PM as Arvind Kejriwal’s style drama.

Amarinder was part of the Congress delegation led by party’s national vice president Rahul Gandhi who met the PM. Sukhbir said Amarinder had lied and deceived the farmers and even concocted forms which had no legal sanctity.

“This amounts to betraying the interests of farmers for cheap petty political gains”, he added.

He said all this had happened because Amarinder was far removed from the people and the State.

“He does not live in the State nor does he have any time to meet the people of his former constituency Patiala or Amritsar,” he said.

The Deputy CM said the issue of farm loans had been tackled holistically by coming out with the Settlement of Indebtedness bill besides ensuring that farmers were not charged excessive interest.

In March this year Punjab Assembly had passed ‘The Punjab Settlement of Agricultural Indebtedness Bill, 2016’, which stipulates that the interest payable on debt shall be calculated at such rate as may be notified by the government. This would be in consonance with the interest rates charged by banks on yearly basis.

It was followed up with formation of debt settlement tribunals so that all disputes of farmers were settled expeditiously, he added.

The SAD leader said the SAD-BJP government had recently even come to the aid of small farmers by extending them interest free crop loans of Rs 50,000.

“This was done to cover the cost of inputs of farmers during the recent sowing period. We are also committed to offering cooperative loans at nominal interest to farmers. I am sure the union government will come out with a good package for farmers in the forthcoming budget,” he said.

The SAD president said the Punjab government had already done what Amarinder was promising to the farmers.

“It is for this reason farmers treat Badal as their messiah who protect their facilities like free water for irrigation and never betrayed them. You (Amarinder) on the other hand betrayed Punjabi farmers by withdrawing this facility…practice what you preach before you get ready to befool farmers again with your false and hollow promises”, he added.

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