The Congress today termed the farm loan waiver by BJP governments in the states as mere rhetoric and demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi order a probe into alleged 22 lakh "ghost accounts" in Maharashtra. Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan raised the issue of alleged irregularities in bank accounts that emerged after Maharashtra government stressed on online registration by farmers with their Aadhaar number.
The matter was flagged by state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis himself, he claimed. Chavan, who is a former Maharashtra chief minister, also alleged that the state has provided farm loan waiver only to around 2,000 farmers against the promise made to 89 lakh farmers ahead of elections and asked whether it was merely a poll gimmick. "Will Prime Minister Modi, who continuously makes tall promises of doubling farm income in his Gujarat rallies, order a probe into the 22 lakh 'ghost accounts'? "Will the chief minister of Maharashtra and the chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh order an impartial judicial probe into these massive irregularities in farm loans," he told reporters. Alleging that the implementation of the scheme has come as a "rude shock" to small and marginal farmers of Maharashtra, he asked "whether the promise of farm loan waiver was only a 'jumla' (rhetoric) by the BJP to fetch votes in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra?". "Have the farmers of India been duped to simply get votes by the BJP in elections after elections," he asked. He also asked the BJP to apologise to the farmers who have been deprived of these benefit of loan waiver scheme. "The Congress demands answers to these important questions on behalf of crores of farmers of India," he said. Chavan also condemned the detention of some farmers in Akola in Maharashtra and that of BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, saying the "fascist shades" of the BJP have come to the fore. He said their only crime was that they were protesting against the "insensitive policies" of the BJP government that have severely affected the cotton farmers of Vidarbha. "We strongly condemn such actions by the state government, which in its hunger for power, is playing with the rights of the farmers in the state," he said. The former chief minister said the much-hyped farm loan waiver scheme announced by Maharashtra government on June 24, 2017 was expected to benefit 89 lakh farmers across the state and an amount of Rs 34,022 crore was to be disbursed to the debt ridden farmers by October 31. Chavan alleged that BJP's "deception can be gauged by the mere fact that banks (both public sector and co-operative) which were supposed to waive the loans, were found to have inflated the number of farm loan accounts by about 22 lakh". "These 22 lakh beneficiaries are now termed as 'ghost accounts' by senior officials of the State Bank of India, as per media reports," he alleged. The Congress leader said several media reports indicate that that now the actual budget for farm loan waiver has been reduced by Rs 10,200 crores to Rs 24,000 Crores. Chavan said he on the behalf of the Congress party had written to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, citing several instances of such 'ghost accounts' but did not receive any response.
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