Senior Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel was announced as the Chief Minister designate of Chhattisgarh by the All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Sunday, December 16. Baghel now, has a road of thorns in this journey.
The Congress won the Chhattisgarh assembly with a landslide victory due to the anti-incumbency factor and also, promises made to the farmers of the state. But fulfilling these poll promises is not going to be a cake walk for the party and the Chief Minister will have to formulate a scheme for waiving the loans of the farmers, along with the other promises.
In an interaction before polling, when Baghel was busy campaigning in North Bastar, he told NewsClick that the Congress has yet not prepared any formula on how to waive the loans of the farmers.
“Let us first come to power then we will decide on how to waive the loans and from where to bring in the money for that. There is no backroom research or mechanism in the Congress party and everything is very transparent. There is no need to worry about anything as our party will fulfill each and every promise very soon and let me tell you that promises made by Congress are not jumla (fake promises),” Baghel told NewsClick.
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It may be noted that the Chhattisgarh state cooperative department has started the process of collecting details of the outstanding loans of the farmers in view of the promises made in the party’s poll manifesto which said that the promise of loan waiver will be fulfilled within the first 10 working days of the government, said P S Sarpraaj, deputy secretary cooperative department.
Sarpraaj further said that, a scheme is to be drafted first to implement the announcement, while the Directorate of Institutional Finance, state-level bankers’ committee of the State Bank of India's zonal office and the Chhattisgarh State Cooperative Bank have been asked to submit details of pending agriculture loan amounts of farmers in banks functioning under their purview.
Tough Road Ahead?
The loan amount that is to be waived by the government may cross the figure of Rs. 5,000 crore and Congress will soon have to formulate a policy on this because the state exchequer has been left with very less money, a senior secretary level officer confirmed to NewsClick.
According to senior scribe Devsharan Tiwari, the state government will have to first control its expenses and prioritise them. “Money has been wasted like water by the governments in Chhattisgarh which is why there is hardly any money left with the state exchequer. Congress is really going to have a very tough time in managing the money because the stakes for Congress are very high with the Lok Sabha elections around the corner. If they fail to deliver these promises then they will be at a huge loss,” Tiwari said.
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Not just managing money for loan waiver but other promises like increasing the MSP on minor forest produce, ending the cartelisation, corruption in the sale and purchase of tendu leaves are going to be a very tough task for the Congress, said Tiwari adding that the promise of bringing the left wing extremist into the mainstream with dialogues is also going to be a very hard nut to crack.
Political commentator Ashok Tomar said that today’s public is very clever. “If they can bring you back to the power then on not fulfilling the poll promises they can oust you too and that they will. The had ousted the Raman government over such things and the Congress should take this very seriously. Otherwise, the day will not be too far when they are forced to sit again in the opposition,” he said.
It should be noted that the Congress, which formed the government in Karnataka with the support of H D Kumaraswamy, had also promised to waive the loan of farmers within 24 hours of coming to the government but so far, only 800 farmers have been able to avail the benefit of the loan waiver promise of the government. This was told by Karnataka Cooperation minister Bandeppa Kashempura in the state legislative assembly on December 13.