Mumbai: Former Maharashtra chief minister and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday came down heavily on the Devendra Fadnavis government for the irregularities that were detected before the disbursal of funds in the first phase of the loan waiver scheme.
After Firstpost broke the story on the irregularities on Tuesday, Fadnavis has been facing intense heat from the Opposition for a fault that cannot be entirely put on the BJP-led government alone.
The former chief minister made it clear that the onus lies with his predecessor for the goof up as Fadnavis had himself announced that online submission and Aadhaar number are mandatory to avail benefits under the loan waiver scheme.
"Aadhaar is made compulsory by the government, and not by banks. The government is not able to get its Information Technology Act together. The chief minister's mindset is that loan waivers only help banks and most cooperative banks are controlled by the NCP and the Congress. It's a totally baseless allegation," Chavan told Firstpost in an exclusive interview.
Multiple names have appeared against same Aadhaar numbers raising eyebrows as many suspected it to be an attempt to divert money, although it is the primary responsibility of the banks to ensure that the accounts are adjusted against correct Aadhaar numbers.
The loan waiver mess is fast turning out to be a thorn to the ruling BJP as the Opposition parties are exploiting it to the hilt to gain the maximum political mileage out of it.
"The implementation of the loan waiver scheme is being completely mishandled. It's not a mistake. I said all the mess have been deliberately done. A gang of educated people who work in non-executive posts are far more influential in the system. It is well-planned exercise to reduce the number of farmers. This would automatically reduce the loan waiver amount," said Chavan. The former chief minister did not explain further.
He even raised questions on the actual number of beneficiary numbers as the number kept on decreasing.
"In the month of June 2017, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had announced and tweeted that 89 lakh farmers would be eligible for the historic loan waiver of Rs 34,022 crore. But what happened in 120 days? The number of beneficiary farmers dropped to 77 lakhs and yesterday it came down to 67 lakhs. What happened in the last four months? Who deleted 22 lakh farmers before the implementation of the scheme? It may be a major scam behind the so-called technical error," Chavan said.
"Who gave the list of 89 lakh farmers to the chief minister? Why are the farmers humiliated by deleting the names of real farmers and why have fake beneficiaries been added? There should be a judicial inquiry into what has exactly gone wrong. We are demanding a judicial probe because we believe that bogus names of farmers have been included in the list of beneficiaries for the loan waiver scheme. There should be a transparent probe and name of those responsible for the mess should be revealed," the Congress leader said.
He also said that the state government does not have enough fund to sustain the scheme.
"The state government has made supplementary provision of Rs 20,000 crore in budget. Then why did the state government sent letter to bank and asked the banks to use their own funds to settle the farmers' loans. The state promised the banks a reimbursement later but it means the state government don’t have money to reimburse farmers' loans on their own," said Chavan.
Firstpost had reviewed a list comprising 273 beneficiary farmer names, which is part of the 8.5 lakh entries that were submitted to the State Level Bankers' Committee, a lobby of banks.
The list showed serious discrepancies in the entries submitted by around 35 banks including private, state-owned and district cooperative banks to SLBC.
In the 273 entries, 10 randomly generated Aadhaar numbers were used against multiple entries of farmers.
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Updated Date: Oct 26, 2017 22:53:19 IST