Jaipur: Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot announced a second round of sops for farmers at a rally in Jaipur on Friday as the Congress looks to continue its winning momentum in the state for the Lok Sabha elections by consolidating the votes of the agrarian community.
Gehlot, speaking after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi made his maiden speech after the party’s assembly poll victory, said that his government would not hike electricity rates for farmers in the next five years and vowed to provide one lakh connections by June this year.
He also said that the state would help set up food processing units on agriculture land in villages without the need for land conversion in case of plots up to 10 hectares and help arrange loans for these units. Lastly, he assured the agricultural community that they will get Minimum Support Price for their produce.
The Congress-led government in Rajasthan had last month announced a waiver of short-term loans taken by farmers from cooperative banks and loans of up to Rs 2 lakh from other banks. The waiver would cost Rs 8,000 crore to the state government. Gehlot told reporters the scheme will apply to farmers in debt till November 30.
The party had also waived farm loans in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and has repeatedly attacked the Narendra Modi government over farmer distress, and urged it to follow suit and waive loans across the country.
At the Jaipur rally, Gandhi said that farmers, troubled by the agriculture distress, had showed Prime Minister Modi their strength in the recent assembly elections in the three Hindi heartland states.
He also promised to waive farm loans in every state if the Congress is voted to power in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress president, however, said waiving farm loans is a small step towards addressing the agriculture distress and "a new green revolution (harit kranti) is needed to address the problem."