Elections 2019: Will farm loan waiver serve as game changer for parties?

Bhubaneswar: While there are speculations in national media about BJP-led centre considering farm loan waivers after the poll debacle in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, economic expert and former Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Raghuram Rajan considers it a wrong move.

According to Rajan, the centre needs Rs 4 lakh crore to waive off loans of the farmers.

“Certainly, there is reason to think about farmers’ distress. The question is will farmers be benefitted by waiving loans for all times to come. Secondly, it creates enormous problems for the state once waiver becomes effective,” Rajan said.

According to sources, if the Odisha government decides to go for farm loan waiver for 54,24,000 farmers in the state, it will be under debt of Rs 26,606 crore.

There has been outrage among farmers across Odisha over demand for farm loan waiver but the Odisha government is yet to come up with any such poll sop.

Though the Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy had earlier spoken about the government considering farm loan waivers, he is now silent on the issue.

Maharathy said “I don’t have information about farm loan waivers. Earlier, I may have said it but now things are different.”

Though there are speculations over the State government considering farm loan waivers, economic experts have expressed strong reservations citing rise in fiscal deficit.

Economic expert and journalist Dilip Satpathy said “The Rs 9,60,000 crore surplus with the RBI will be used by the centre to waive off farm loans. If fiscal deficit rises, so will inflation and other variables.”

Meanwhile, both the BJP and the Congress have promised farm loan waivers for the farmers in the state.
Opposition leader Narasingha Mishra said “Farmers need immediate farm loan waivers. This should be promised before elections otherwise we cannot win the trust of the people.”

BJP State vice-president, Samir Mohanty said “The State government should think about how to relieve the farmers of their distressed condition. BJP will waive off loans and also double their income.”

Prasanna Acharya President Biju Krushak Janata Dal said, “Everyone comes up with big ideas when not in power. We have always stressed on agriculture and farmers and will continue to do so. The party and the leaders are well aware of the issues.”