The Uttar Pradesh government headed by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday announced the decision to waive off the crop loans of small and marginal farmers of up to Rs 1 lakh, totalling a staggering Rs 36,359 crore.
The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Yogi government in Lucknow today.
The move will benefit over 2.15 crore farmers, besides seven lakh others who had secured loans which turned into non-performing assets (NPAs).
While Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies hailed the move, the Opposition has expressed disappointment over the limit of Rs 1 lakh saying many farmers will not get the benefit from the scheme.
Here are the political reactions to the announcement:
BJP President today congratulated Yogi Adityanath for waiving off loans of farmers in UP.
"Congratulations to Yogi Adityanath and his Cabinet for the historic decision to waive off loans of 2.15 crore small and marginal farmers and for seting a traget to buy 80 lakh metric tonnes wheat," Amit Shah tweeted.
The BJP, in its Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (manifesto), had promised to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too had said in his campaign speeches that writing off farm loans would be among the foremost tasks of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today welcomed the Uttar Pradesh government's decision to waive farmers' loans and urged the ruling Congress in Punjab to do the same.
SAD secretary and spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has stood by its commitment and deserves all praise for its "historic" decision.
He reminded Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of his loan waiver promise and asked, "Now what stops Amarinder from following Adityanath's footsteps.".
Maharashtra's ruling alliance partner and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray today Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for writing off loans of farmers and demanded a loan waiver for farmers in Maharashtra as well.
He also aimed a barb at the BJP, saying the UP CM has showed that loan waiver was not just a "chunavi jumla" (poll slogan).
"Yogi Adityanath has provided relief to farmers burdened by loans. I congratulate him for taking a quick decision," said Thackeray, whose party is BJP's alliance partner both in Maharashtra and at the Centre, in a statement here.
"I urge (Maharashtra Chief Minister) Devendra Fadnavis to follow in Adityanath's footsteps and announce loan waiver," he said.
"He has shown that promises are not mere 'election jumla' for him. If there can be a loan waiver in the country's biggest state, why should a pro-agriculture state like Maharashtra be left behind," the Sena chief asked.
The maximum number of farmer suicides take place in Maharashtra, with indebtedness being one of the main reasons, he said, adding Shiv Sena will continue to demand loan waiver for farmers.
The Congress today dubbed the UP government's decision to waive farm loans as an "unfulfilled promise" and said time has come for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to fulfil their promises to farmers in toto.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the farmers cannot stand on their feet "with half truth but with full loan waiver".
He said there total loans of Rs 92,241 crore on farmers of Uttar Pradesh and government has only partially waived the crop loans of Rs 36,000 crore leaving them high and dry. He said that the Rs 56,241 crore worth of term loans on farmers of the state remain and the BJP has only "befooled" the farmers by announcing a populist measure that will not help them come out of distress.
"The hopes of farmers of Uttar Pradesh have been dashed with the decision of UP cabinet. The Yogi government has decided to waive only Rs 36,000 crore of loans that will not make the farmers debt-free or provide relief to them.
"While farm loan waiver is the right decision, it is half truth as it will neither help free the farmers of debt nor provide them a new lease of life. Time has come for the Prime Minister and UP Chief Minister to fulfil their promise," he told reporters.
Surjewala said the BJP manifesto did not distinguish between crop loan and term loans adding "Through this half truth, farmers will not come out of the vicious debt cycle".
He said that 79.45 per cent of farmers in Uttar Pradesh were marginal while 13.01 per cent farmers were small and they had great hopes of getting relief from the new BJP government.
He also hoped that the Yogi Adityanath-led government will also provide relief to sugar growers, by paying pending dues of Rs 6,561 crore for 2016-17, Rs 599 crore for 2015-16 and Rs 153 crore for 2014-15.
The Congress leader said there were 2.33 crore farmers in UP and 64.14 lakh had pending loan of Rs 86,241 crore from commercial banks and Rs 6,000 crore from cooperative banks.
He said marginal farmers had an average land holding of 0.44 hectare and small farmers had average land holding of 1.43 hectare, all of whom were hoping for an end to their misery.
He also claimed the BJP has waived loans worth Rs 1.4 lakh crores of big corporate houses and industrialists.
Samajwadi Party President and former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said many poor farmers feel cheated after the move to impose a limit of Rs 1 lakh.
"Promise was to waive the entire loan... farmers are feeling cheated as the government fixed a limit of Rs one lakh. The poor farmers have been betrayed," Akhilesh Yadav tweeted.
Farmer leaders in Uttar Pradesh welcomed the state government's move to waive off loans but said the cap of Rs one lakh left them feeling cheated.
Farmers unions said the cap and limitation to crop loan would confine the benefit.
"We welcome the gesture and it will help many, but very few small farmers apply for crop loans, so it won't help all... Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised during elections to waive off the entire loan and not a fixed section," Dharmendra Singh from Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) told IANS.
Umesh Chandra Pandey, another farmer leader based in Sitapur, said that while small and marginalised farmers deserve help, the condition of big farmers in Uttar Pradesh is not very good either.
"We hope this government would think of others as well," Pandey told IANS.