Hours after taking oath as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, Kamal Nath on Monday cleared the proposal of waiving farm loans up to Rs 2 lakh as promised by Congress president Rahul Gandhi ahead of assembly elections. This is the first big step taken by the Nath since becoming the chief minister. In its election manifesto, the Congress had promised to waive off farm loans within 10 days of coming to power.
After Nath signed the relevant file, Rajesh Rajora, Principal Secretary, Farmers' Welfare and Agriculture Development Department, issued an order in this regard. The order stated, "Madhya Pradesh Government has taken a decision to write off short-term crop loan of eligible farmers up to the limit of Rs 2 lakh, as on March 31, 2018, from nationalised and cooperative banks."
Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath signs on the files for farm loan waiver pic.twitter.com/NspxMA8Z6i— ANI (@ANI) December 17, 2018
"After joining this post (of Chief Minister), the first file I have signed is of farm loan waiver of Rs 2 lakh each, as I had promised to the farmers," Nath said.
"Our schemes of providing incentives of investment will only be imposed after 70% people from Madhya Pradesh get employment. People from other states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh come here and local people don't get jobs," the new chief minister added.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi also took to Twitter to announce Nath's move. "CM, Madhya Pradesh, waives farm loans. 1 done. 2 to go." Gandhi tweeted.
CM, Madhya Pradesh, waives farm loans.
2 to go.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 17, 2018
Addressing a public rally on June 7 at Pipliya Mandiin Mandsaur district, Gandhi had announced his party would waive farm loans within 10 of coming to power in the state. "Here Kamal Nath (MP Congress president) and Jyotiraditya Scindia (the state Congress poll campaign committee chairman) are sitting. The day the Congress comes to power in MP, count 10 days, I say with guarantee that farmer loans will be waived within 10 days. It won't take even the eleventh day," Gandhi had said at the rally. Later, this announcement was included in the Congress manifesto, titled `Vachan Patra'.
Six farmers were killed in police firing at Pipliya Mandi during an agitation in June last year. The Congress won 114 assembly seats and secured the support of seven more MLAs - SP (1) and BSP (2) and four independents - to cross the majority mark of 116 in the 230-member Assembly.
Nath took oath as the 18th chief minister of Madhya Pradesh at the Jamboree Maidan in Bhopal at 1.30 pm on Monday. The ceremony was preceded by an all-religion prayer meeting. Apart from Congress president Rahul Gandhi, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge, former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda attended the ceremony. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati and Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav were also invited for the event. However, Mamata Banerjee didn't attend the swearing-in ceremony.
Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi represented the party at the event, which the Congress intended to showcase as a picture of Opposition unity. Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati have also informed that they wouldn't attend the ceremony.
Speaking on the allegations that he was also involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Nath said: "I took oath in 1991 and several times after that, no one said anything. There is no case, FIR, or chargesheet against me. Today, they are raking up this matter. You can understand politics behind this. Did eyewitness tell you(about his involvement)?"
Earlier in the day, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley alleged that Sikhs consider Nath "culpable" in the violence against the community. Jaitley's remark came after Congress leader Sajjan Kumar's conviction in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. Convicting Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 riots case, the Delhi High Court said the riots were a "crime against humanity" perpetrated by those who enjoyed "political patronage".