Bhojraj Patidar is quite worried these days. The farmer had procured a farm loan waiver certificate for Rs 83,000 during the Kamal Nath government term. Now, the bank has been calling Patidar and his son to deposit that very amount.
Patidar, the owner of a ten-acre farm at Misrod village, located in the outskirts of Bhopal, is among the 22 lakh farmers whose loans had been waived off by the former Congress government.
He had secured a loan of Rs 3 lakh from a co-operative society, and he, along with his fellow farmers had got a loan waiver certificate of Rs 83,000.
But the loan waiver process was stalled after the Congress government was brought down after a mass exodus of MLAs in March. Now farmers like Patidar are staring at the defaulter tag.
“The bank is asking us to pay us the money but I have no means to fulfill their demand,” Patidar says.
Another farmer, Santosh Patidar, says that they (farmers) will not deposit the amount being demanded by banks and instead will sue the government, as the loan waiver certificate was offered by it.
"We don’t care even if the government has changed," he says.
According to the co-operative society, the loans of the farmers will be waived off once the current state government deposits the money.
Nadim Khan, the manager of the co-operative society of Misrod says that "going by the certificates, the loans have been waived off and once the money is received, it will be adjusted in the society’s account."
In accordance with its pre-poll promise, the previous Congress government led by ex-Chief Minister Kamal Nath had decided to waive off the farm loans of 48 lakh farmers. In a year, the state government waived off loans up to Rs 1 lakh and 2 lakh in two different phases for 22 lakh farmers.
But before the loan waiver could be implemented, the Kamal Nath government was dethroned. The CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan-government is maintaining silence on the loan waiver issue, pushing about 15 lakh farmers into absolute uncertainty.
As the assembly bypolls near, however, the issue of farm loan waivers is gathering steam again in the state. While on one hand the current BJP government is mum on whether the loan waiver will continue or not, Agriculture minister Kamal Patel is urging farmers to lodge complaints against the previous government for cheating them.
On the contrary, the Congress party, presently in the opposition, is accusing the state government of betraying the farmers. Previously in Congress, and now a cabinet minister in the BJP state government, Govind Singh Rajput says that it was the Congress government which had come up with farm loan waiver announcement but "could not fulfill the mark completely."
The Chief Minister says that no harm should befall farmers.
Patel has also accused Congress of promising farmers of a loan waiver within ten days of coming to power but that "they did not do it."
“The Congress instead destroyed co-operative banks and left credit societies in defaulter status,” he says, adding these societies are not in a position to extend credit.
"Farmers should lodge cases of fraud against Rahul Gandhi and Kamal Nath," Patel says. Former Agriculture minister Sachin Yadav has asked the BJP government to clarify its stand on farm loan waiver, and says that farmers are in a conundrum of whether they are required to pay the farm loans or not.