On Thursday, Rajasthan joined an increasing list of states that have promised farm debt waivers in the recent past. After a marathon meeting with farmer groups, the state government announced it would waive all farm loans up to Rs 50,000 per farmer. The decision came in the wake of a 13-day farmer protest, which originated in Sikar and spread to other districts. The farmer protests were led by All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), affiliated with the Communist Party of India (Marxist). A ministerial sub-committee held consultations with the leaders of the protest, including CPI (M) legislator Amra Ram. According to one estimate, the waiver would cumulatively amount to Rs 20,000 crore. The Vasundhara Raje-led government has constituted a committee of experts to study farm loan waivers offered in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala and others. The committee will submit a report in a month’s time. The government had invited AIKS leaders for talks after sustained protests, which had led to the blocking of state highways and roads.
The talks lasted for nearly 11 hours on Wednesday, with Agriculture Minister Prabhulal Saini announcing the agreement after midnight. Farmer leaders demanded wavier of all loans amounting to Rs 49,500 crore, but the state government said its records showed the loans amounted to Rs 19,700 crore.Farmer organisations and opposition parties have kept up the pressure on the government on agrarian distress, demanding the implementation of the M S Swaminathan commission report, particularly taking steps to increase farm incomes. On attacks on cattle traders by cow vigilantes, the government promised to provide security to the former. It also committed to take steps to solve the nuisance of stray cattle. The ban on cattle trade had meant an increase in stray cattle that was damaging crops. The AIKS had submitted an 11-point charter of demands to the government. Rajasthan will go to polls in end-2018.