Following in the footsteps of his counterparts in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday announced waiver of short-term loans taken by farmers from cooperative banks and loans of up to Rs 2 lakh from other banks.
The decision will cost Rs 18,000 crore to the state exchequer. Gehlot said the scheme would apply to farmers in debt till November 30.
“It's done”, tweeted Congress president Rahul Gandhi soon after the announcement. “We asked for 10 days, we did it in two,” he said.
Farm loan waiver was a key promise of the Congress in the three Hindi heartland states where the party came to power after the recently held assembly elections.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel had announced farm loan waivers in their states soon after taking charge.
The opposition party hopes to corner the Union government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party on the issue of farm crisis ahead of the general elections in 2019. Last week, Union minister Parshottam Rupala told THE WEEK that the government was not considering any loan waiver scheme for farmers before the Lok Sabha polls.
On Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi launched a scathing attack on Narendra Modi saying he would not let the prime minister sleep until all farm loans are waived.
Rahul also issued a challenge to the prime minister, saying, "If the Modi government does not waive farm loans, we guarantee to waive farm loans if voted to power in 2019."
Meanwhile, the BJP-led Assam government on Tuesday waived the farm loan worth Rs 600 crore.