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Cong sees 'panic' in BJP

Why farm loan waiver in Rajasthan now, asks party

New Delhi: An ecstatic Congress sees the sops announced by the Vasundhara Raje government in the budget on Monday as "signs of panic" in the wake of the jolt in the Rajasthan bypolls.

Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot told The Telegraph: "These are all desperate measures for survival after the impact of the bypoll results. The people, who know these schemes will remain on paper, will also realise the BJP is in panic.

"They won such a big mandate; why didn't the chief minister think of people's welfare in her first four years? She can't fool the voters by announcing schemes barely months before the elections."

The BJP lost to the Congress in bypolls to two Lok Sabha seats and one Assembly constituency.

Asserting that farmers' interest was definitely not on Raje's mind, Pilot questioned the loan-waiver scheme announced by the chief minister.

"There is no mention of where the funds will come from. The chief minister has herself said there is no guarantee the schemes will be implemented. Also, farmers have taken loans from cooperative sectors and private banks, and the average amount is around Rs 4 lakh. The Rs 50,000 limit is just tokenism. The government is recognised for running anti-people policies for the last four years," the Congress leader said.

The BJP government has announced that it will waive loans up to Rs 50,000 for small and marginal farmers. This will cost the exchequer Rs 8,000 crore.

The chief minister also announced other sops, including free travel for people above 80 years, hike in the honorarium of anganwadi workers and incentives for cow shelters.

Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of the BJP also announced several measures, including bonus above the minimum support price to ensure farmers get fair prices for their produce.

Both Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh will go to the polls later this year and the outcome is expected to decisively affect the 2019 parliamentary elections.

While the Congress's hopes rest on these two states, the BJP will suffer a heavy blow in case both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan slip away. While the Congress leadership structure is in place in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh is still awaiting party president Rahul Gandhi's decision on the revamp of the state unit.

Senior Congress leaders from Madhya Pradesh - Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and state unit chief Arun Yadav - dismissed Chouhan's announcement as a ploy to mislead the farmers.

They argued that bonus was denied to the farmers after the Narendra Modi government came to power at the Centre and that insurance claims were never processed despite crop damage in the past four years.

Opinion

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