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Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis today accused Opposition Congress-NCP of shedding "crocodile tears" over the plight of farmers and said that their demand for loan waiver is politically motivated as they suffered a severe drubbing in the recent local bodies and civic polls across the state.
Fadnavis reiterated that his government was not opposed to farm loan waiver but wanted that the decision, when taken, to benefit farmers.
Intervening in the State Legislative Assembly, which has been witnessing uproarious scenes on demand for farm loan waiver, Fadnavis today said the plight of farmers was due to the policies of the previous Congress-NCP government, which ruled the state for 15 years.
"You have no right to ask for a loan waiver. Only BJP and Shiv Sena can ask for loan waiver. Your demand is out of political motives since you have been convincingly defeated in the recent polls. Your are just shedding crocodile tears. We are not against loan waiver but we are deliberating on when and how it should be done," Fadnavis said.
He said about 1.36 crore farmers have taken loan worth Rs 1.14 lakh crore.
"Rs 63 crore is agriculture related loan while Rs 51 crore is personal loan. Out of the total loan, Rs 31,057 crore is overdue and Rs 30,500 crore is outdated," he said.
Fadnavis pointed out that the state's total expenditure is Rs 2.57 lakh crore of which Rs 1.32 lakh crore goes towards wages. The expenditure towards central government schemes is Rs 34,421 crore and that towards local bodies is Rs 10,407 crore.
The capital expenditure has risen from Rs 25,000 crore to Rs 31,000 crore. All these years, expenditure on agriculture investment was very less, he said adding that since his government came to power, capital expenditure on agriculture and allied sector is Rs 19,434 crore.
Similarly, Rs 11,500 crore has been spent on crop insurance and assistance for natural calamities.
"I want the Opposition leaders to guarantee that if we waive off the outdated loan of Rs 30,500 crore, there will be no single farmer suicide. Since the loan waiver of 2008-09, 16,000 farmers have committed suicide," Fadnavis said.
He said if loan waiver is announced, the government will have no money for investment in agriculture sector.
"Farmers became debt-ridden within a year of the loan waiver. After the previous loan waiver, banks did not find the farmers credit worthy for fresh loans," the CM said.
Fadnavis charged that Opposition Congress-NCP wants the loan waiver to help district co-operative banks run by them and which are involved in irregularities.
He said Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh invested in agriculture, and farmers were benefited.
Fadnavis said his government's endeavor wants to ensure the economy is focused on agriculture investment and increasing agriculture productivity and not just relief and rehabilitation. He said he was willing to lead a delegation to the Centre to meet Union Finance and Agriculture minister for assistance in Agriculture sector. Earlier, as soon as the House assembled for the day and Speaker called for the Question Hour, Shiv Sena legislators entered the Well of the House shouting slogans demanding loan waiver for farmers.
They were joined by Opposition Congress and NCP.
Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said Opposition members have been demanding loan waiver since the Budget session began.
Recently some parts of the state saw unseasonal rains, due to which debt-ridden farmers suffered crop losses, Patil said.
He said sentiment of the Lower House was that there is no option other than loan waiver to the farmers.
The House witnesses noisy scenes with the Opposition members along with Shiv Sena shouting slogans demanding loan waiver. Even as Sena legislators were in the Well, party ministers in the government like Diwakar Raote, Arjun khotkar were in their seats.
Then the Speaker adjourned the House for 30 minutes. After the House re-assembled following the first adjournment , Yogesh Sagar (BJP) who was in the Chair appealed to the agitating members to go back to their seats.
The House gas not functioned since the last week, Sagar said.
He appealed that the members allow the question hour. However Congress-NCP and Sena members were in no mood to listen. The House was adjourned for the second time till the end of the Question Hour.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis's intervention after the second adjournment was amid slogan shouting by the Congress-NCP legislators.
Shiv Sena members did not come into the well when Fadnavis was making his government's stand clear.
Later, Sena legislators Chandradeep Narke and Anil Kadam said the farmers plight was bad.
"It is because the Congress and NCP was responsible for the same. We have come on the treasury benches. The Chief Minister should discuss with the Centre and announce loan waiver to farmers before the budget presentation on March 18. Shiv Sena will take to the street if the demand is not accepted," he said.
Vikhe Patil criticised the Chief Minister's statement saying it was misleading and the government was interested in waiving off loans of industrialists. After third and fourth adjournment of 15 and 10 minutes each, the Chair rushed through the day's agenda like passing the Maharashtra (supplementary) Appropriation Bill, Mumbai Municipal Corporation, Maharashtra Municipal Corporation and Municipal Council; and Nagar Panchayat and Industrial township (Amendment) Bill and Agriculture Land Ceiling Amendment Bill amid noisy scenes, before adjourning the House for the day. Earlier, speaking to reporters outside the Assembly, Shiv Sena leader and MLA Anil Kadam said the state government should get financial assistance from the Centre within next two days for announcing the loan waiver. "Our party will continue to support BJP-led government till the Budget presentation (scheduled on March 18). If they fail to provide a loan waiver, then Shiv Sena will oppose it," he said. On estimates that the state government would need Rs 30,000 crore for the loan waiver, Kadam said, "We appreciate CM's (Fadnavis had made a statement to this effect in the Assembly) understanding of issues but the condition of farmers is critical. Financial support should be given at any cost. We demand that CM should seek appointment with the Centre and ensure some financial assistance to farmers.