Maharashtra Assembly: Over 23,000 farmer suicides have taken place since 2009, says Devendra Fadnavis

Thursday marked the first time that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the House that a state government delegation will meet the Union finance and agriculture ministers to ask them for help with loan waivers

Sanjay Sawant March 16, 2017 14:47:43 IST
Maharashtra Assembly: Over 23,000 farmer suicides have taken place since 2009, says Devendra Fadnavis

Mumbai: The deadlocked issue of loan waivers for farmers is set to continue into the second week of the Budget Session, but Thursday marked the first time that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis assured the House that a state government delegation will meet the Union finance and agriculture ministers to ask them for help with loan waivers. At the same time, the chief minister launched a scathing attack on Opposition parties, particularly the Congress and NCP, blaming them for the deaths of more than 16,000 farmers between 2009 (when loan waivers were rolled out) and 2014.

Maharashtra Assembly Over 23000 farmer suicides have taken place since 2009 says Devendra Fadnavis

File image of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

"The Congress-NCP government only gave out Rs 7,000 crore in packages for farmers, but in the past 30 months, we have given more than Rs 31,000 crore for farmers. The Opposition is only making political demands and after the defeat in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, legislative council and zilla parishad elections, the Opposition parties are only pulling stunts," he alleged.

During the present government's tenure, the numbers of farmer suicides have been 3,228 (in 2015) and 3,500 (in 2016). And so, between 2009 and 2016, more than 23,000 farmers have killed themselves in the state.

For the fifth consecutive day, members of the Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP have been trying to stall proceedings — on two separate occasions for half an hour at a time — by demanding loan waivers to farmers. The chief minister made a statement in the Assembly that while the state government was ready to give loan waivers, he wanted to focus on other remedies to help the farmers. "The Opposition party is responsible for the mess with loan waivers. They are only using it to play politics. But, I assure the House that I will lead the delegation of members from the BJP and Shiv Sena and meet the Union finance minister and agriculture minister at an appropriate time," he said.

In his statement, Fadnavis clarified that in the state, the the actual amount to be waived is Rs 30,500 crore. "So if we provide loan waivers to all the farmers, the burden on the state is Rs 30,500 crore," said the chief minister, "On the other hand, the total expenses of the state are Rs 2.57 lakh crore — salary and pension expenses account for around Rs 1.32 lakh crore. but in the past 30 months, the Central government has given Rs 19,000 crore for drought-relief; and for other things, we gave Rs 11,500 crore. So we have already given Rs 31,000 crore for agriculture sector. But the Congress-NCP government had given only Rs 7,000 crore, but after the loan waiver in 2009, the number of farmers suicides is increasing drastically."

"In terms of productivity, Maharashtra is lagging behind other states. Neighbouring states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have provided remedies for improving the standard of living for farmers. We are focusing on relief and rehabilitation of farmers, and are seeking the help of the Centre," said the chief minister.

But after the chief minister's statement, Shiv Sena MLA from Junnar Anil Kadam strongly appealed that the Sena wanted a complete loan waiver. "He should tell us when he will visit the Centre and meet the concerned ministers and the Sena is firm on its stand," he said. But later on, the Opposition parties and Sena stalled the proceedings of the House in the Assembly and Council, forcing both to be adjourned for the day.

"The interesting thing is that during the Fadnavis government's tenure in 2015, 3,228 farmers ended their lives, whereas in the 2016, more than 3,500 farmers committed suicide. So who is responsible for the suicide of 7,000 farmers in just two years?" asked former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar. Opposition leader Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil alleged that the BJP was indulging in double standards with farmers. "We have been demanding loan waivers for the past week and this statement by the chief minister is totally politically-motivated," he said.

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