Farm loan-waiver continues to stall Maharashtra House proceedings

Opposition Congress-NCP in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly continued their boycott of proceedings for the second day on Wednesday demanding loan waiver for farmers while the government told the House that it was impossible for it to take up this liability on account of a huge debt of Rs 3.30 lakh crore.

The BJP-led government also tried to turn the tables on the Opposition by citing an inquiry report of alleged misappropriation in the Annabhau Sathe Corporation during the previous regime.

Hitting out at the Opposition for indulging in politics over farmers' issues, Sanjay Kute of BJP asked the government to act on the probe report into the alleged irregularities and take stern action against the guilty. Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse replied to this saying prima facie the probe report received by the government into the alleged scam appears to be true.

"Despite its willingness to grant loan waiver to farmers, the government is finding it difficult to implement it because of the huge debt of Rs 3.30 lakh crore. We have to pay interest of Rs 24,000 crore annually. The people who are making this demand are guilty of siphoning off government funds through this Corporation. We will file criminal cases against the guilty as per rules before the ongoing monsoon session concludes," Khadse said.

Earlier, the House saw two adjournments for ten minutes each as Opposition members were on their feet targeting the government on delay of implementing the housing scheme for mill workers and dilly-dallying in announcing a loan waiver for farmers. As soon as the House resumed and Speaker Haribhau Bagade called for the Question hour, Jayant Patil of NCP said it was the previous government that framed policy for mill workers' housing and one lakh tenements are ready to be occupied.

"But this government is delaying the process of lottery and allotment of houses. Like farmers, the government has duped the mill workers as well with tall and hollow promises," he said.

Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the delay in implementing housing scheme for mill workers is hurting them. Besides, farmers suicides are on the rise and there is no clarity on demand for loan waiver, he said. "The government has made a provision of Rs 2,000 crore in the supplementary demands for compensation of scrapping of LBT. But, it has no feelings for farmers' misery," he said.

Khadse said government will announce its policy for mill workers' housing and farmers' issues in the House and asked the Opposition to raise their issues through discussions. The Opposition members trooped into the Well of the House and raised slogans attacking the government. Jayant Patil of NCP said the government has lost trust and faith of the people.

After the House reassembled following the second adjournment, Vikhe Patil said the government was trying to muzzle the media from covering the Opposition protest highlighting the problems of mill workers and farmers. On Tuesday, the government tried to prevent the media from covering our protest in the Vidhan Bhavan premises, he said.

Accusing the government of being two-faced, Vikhe Patil said on one hand senior minister Eknath Khadse told the media yesterday that they cannot provide loan waiver for farmers and on the other hand the government says that it is concerned about the welfare of farmers. He said the Opposition was staging a walkout in protest against the government's apathy towards farmers. Later, the Opposition members sat on the stairs of the Vidhan Bhavan building chanting slogans against the government.

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