Opposition turns heat on Odisha govt over farm loan waiver

Bhubaneswar: A day after the ruling-BJD announced to hold agitation in Delhi next month demanding hike in minimum support price (MSP) for paddy, the Opposition political parties today turned the heat on State government with the BJP and Congress announcing to waive off farm loans if they come to power in Odisha during the 2019 elections.

Speaking at a presser, BJP State unit president Basant Panda said, “If the party gets elected, it will waive off agriculture loans in the State, besides making provisions for interest free loans to farmers.”

Alleging improper functioning of mandis & delay in paddy procurement in the state, Panda said that the saffron party will launch the ‘Mandi Chaala’ agitation from today till January 7. As part of the protest, the party activists would burn effigies of Food Supplies Minister Surya Narayan Patro in front of the mandis across the State, he added.

Panda further alleged that there is a nexus between the State government and millers and said BJP would ghearo the Secretariat on January 8 over farmers’ issues and force the government to waive off farm loans.

“Instead of going to Delhi over paddy MSP, the ruling party should hike the MSP in the State itself,” said Panda.

With the newly formed Congress government of Chhatisgarh deciding to announce waiver of farm loans within ten days, OPCC chief Niranjan Patnaik who returned after visiting the neighbouring state today said, “The day Congress assumes power, it will announce farm loan waiver. It is only because of the debacle in recent Assembly Elections that the saffron party has declared waiver of farm loans but we have been talking about this for past seven months.”

Senior Congress leader Srikant Jena alleged that BJD’s plan to go to Delhi over paddy MSP is a political gimmick. The State government is only hoodwinking the people with this move, he said.

Refuting the charges, senior BJD leader Pratap Deb said the government is very aware about the issues at mandis and necessary administrative steps are being taken to resolve them.

“The BJP has announced to hold agitation on January 8 the same day when the BJD is going to launch protest. The political aspiration of the saffron party is quite clear that they do not have any sympathy for farmers but are rather politicising it,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention that BJD on Monday announced that it would stage a demonstration in front of the Parliament on January 8, demanding a hike in the MSP of paddy.

BJD’s vice-president Prasanna Acharya, who is also president of the party’s farmers’ wing, had told reporters that the Centre had betrayed the farmers of Odisha with false assurances to increase the MSP of paddy.