Over a fortnight after taking oath, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will today chair his first Cabinet meeting. The meet, expected to begin at around 4PM today, is set to discuss key issues in the BJP’s poll manifesto, especially the farm loan waiver.
“The Cabinet meeting will be held in the evening on April 4,” State Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh told reporters Lucknow on Monday evening.
However, sources said that the loan waiver likely to be extended at today’s crucial Cabinet meeting will only extend to crop loans and will not apply to other loans farmers may have obtained.
State Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi, who was in Varanasi yesterday, said that a proposal has been prepared for loan waiver of farmers and it will be presented before the Cabinet at its first meeting.
The minister told India TV that a list of 1.5 crore farmers had been drawn up. Sources in the state government said that UP was looking to meet the expenses through a loan from the central government and that things were moving ahead.
The BJP, in its Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (manifesto), had promised to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in his election speeches that writing off farmers’ loans would be among the foremost tasks of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.
The Prime Minister had promised during his election campaign that a decision on loan waiver would be taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the BJP government in the state.
According to officials, there are around 2.30 crore farmers in Uttar Pradesh of whom, around 2.15 crore fall in the ‘small and marginal’ category.
They had suffered losses due to natural calamities in the recent past and were unable to repay loans amounting to about Rs 62,000 crore.
As the figure is huge, the Uttar Pradesh government is mulling various options, including raising loans, to honour the saffron party’s commitment to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers.
A state finance department spokesman said that Finance Minister Rajesh Agarwal has already started deliberations with senior officials of his department in this regard.
The government will have to pay the banks to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers and for that, it will have to either seek funds from the Centre or raise loans on its own, the spokesman said.
Sources in the government, however, said that it would be difficult to handle the burden of loan waiver in a single financial year. They added that it was one of the reasons for putting the Cabinet meeting on hold till some way was found to honour the Prime Minister’s poll promise.
Some officers were of the opinion that a decision in this regard could be taken and a policy formulated later, but the Chief Minister insisted that the decision be made once the policy was clear, so that there were no hurdles.
Other key issues in the BJP's poll manifesto, like electricity in rural areas, an ordinance on slaughterhouses, extending more help to the water-scarce Bundelkhand region and sorting out the problems related to Purvanchal are also expected to be taken up during the meeting today.
Speaking to reporters here yesterday, Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya confirmed that the promises made in the BJP's manifesto for the just-concluded state Assembly polls will be on the agenda of the meeting.
"Decisions on a number of important issues will be taken at the cabinet meeting on April 4. The focus will be on honouring the promises made in the party's manifesto," he said.
The Adityanath government was sworn-in on March 19.