Minister’s remark on farm loan “incorrect” : Naveen

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today said his senior minister Damodar Rout was “incorrect” on the farm loan waiver issue.

“I do not think that (minister’s statement) is correct,” Patnaik said when the reporters sought his view on Rout’s reported statement in the media.

The government, he said, was seriously considering the farm loan waiver issue.

Rout, the state cooperation minister, had reportedly said yesterday that many defaulters of farm loans often spend the money on drinking alcohol or for family weddings instead of agricultural activities.

The minister on the other hand denied that he had told the media that farmers were buying liquor with their agriculture loans.

“Yesterday I had not said farmers were buying liquor with their agriculture loans. I said that the agriculture loans are misutilised by land owners, not farmers,” he clarified.

Rout said he had in fact been demanding loan provision for sharecroppers and marginal farmers.

His reported statement has sparked a row in the state with BJP state president Basant Panda saying it was an insult to the state and the farming community.

“He (Rout) should tender unconditional apology and withdraw his statement,” Panda said.

Severeal leaders in the ruling BJD also did not subscribe to Rout’s reported statement.

Yesterday panchayat functionaries of Puri district had urged the chief minister to consider the waiver as farmers of Odisha are poor and often hit by natural calamities like floods, droughts and cyclones.

Patnaik today reviewed BJD’s performance in Balsore besides Jagatsinghpur district from where Rout hails.

Asked about possible ministry reshuffle, Patnaik said, We will look into it .

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