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Kejriwal announces loan waiver, 5 other pre-poll guarantees for Gujarat farmers

Says unfair to provide electricity to farmers for irrigation at night

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal | PTI Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal | PTI

Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal, on Friday, announced a set of six pre-poll "guarantees" for farmers, including waiver of agricultural loans, if the AAP was voted to power in Gujarat as he stepped up his outfit's campaigning for the year-end assembly elections in the BJP-ruled state.

Kejriwal said his party, if voted to power, will create a mechanism to buy farm produce from farmers on minimum support price (MSP). In his address to farmers at Dwarka town of Devbhumi Dwarka district, the Delhi chief minister also promised to conduct a fresh land survey as farmers were unhappy with the survey conducted recently by the BJP government.

"Though MSP is announced every year, farm produce is not sold at that price. It is my guarantee that our government will buy at MSP if farmers do not find any other buyer who is willing to buy their produce at MSP," said Kejriwal. The AAP leader added that a government headed by his party in the state will first cover five farm produce—wheat, paddy, cotton, chana and groundnut—under the 'buy at MSP' programme and then add more commodities to the list going forward.

"I have learnt the farmers in Gujarat get electricity at night to irrigate their fields. If the AAP is voted to power, we will give electricity during the day, that, too, for 12 hours. We will also cancel the land survey done by this government and order a re-survey," said Kejriwal.

He said it was unfair to provide electricity to farmers for irrigation at night while Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel and state BJP president C.R. Paatil can have power supply for 24 hours.

Raising another contentious issue concerning Gujarat farmers, Kejriwal, as his third guarantee, promised to scrap the land survey conducted recently by the BJP government. "This land survey was wrong. We will scrap it and conduct a re-survey of land by keeping farmers in the loop," said the Delhi CM.

On the lines of Delhi, Gujarat farmers will also get a compensation of Rs 20,000 per acre in case of crop loss due to various calamities, promised Kejriwal as his fourth guarantee.

"My fifth guarantee is that within one year of forming a government, we will provide irrigation water to each and every village which falls under the Narmada dam project's command area," he said.

Without elaborating much, the Delhi CM promised loan waiver for Gujarat farmers as his sixth guarantee to cultivators.

A day after winning the confidence motion in the Delhi Assembly, Kejriwal claimed the BJP had offered Rs 20 crore to each AAP MLA to switch sides. While addressing the gathering at Dwarka, the AAP leader, without taking names, claimed the BJP had "purchased" 277 MLAs across the country so far by spending Rs 6,500 crore.

Kejriwal had made the same claim while speaking in the Delhi assembly on Thursday.

The BJP, however, had countered the charge accusing the AAP of making false claims just to divert people's attention from the corruption charges against Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia.

He alleged the BJP government at the Centre increases prices of petrol and diesel at regular intervals to create funds to buy legislators of opposition parties. "They (BJP) recently formed governments in Madhya Pradesh (2020) and Maharashtra (2022) by purchasing MLAs (of other parties). They also tried to do the same in Delhi, as they offered Rs 20 crore to each AAP MLA (to switch sides). They were ready to spend Rs 800 crore to buy our MLAs," he alleged.

The BJP has rejected the AAP claim.

In the past, Kejriwal had announced a set of pre-poll guarantees, including free electricity up to 300 units per month, unemployment allowance of Rs 3,000, ten lakh government jobs, free and quality healthcare to all and free education in state-run schools and Rs 1,000 allowance for women if the AAP comes to power in Gujarat.

The AAP leader has visited Gujarat multiple times in the last few months to give a fillip to his party's campaigning in the state, where the BJP is in power for more than two decades.

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