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Farm loan waiver a relief, not a solution: Sainath

PTI | New Delhi  |

Veteran journalist P Sainath on 11 June described farm loan waiver as a relief but not a solution to agrarian crisis and accused the Modi government of not fulfilling its poll promise of implementing MS Swaminathan's recommendations.

"It is very important to understand that the protests across the country by the farmers is not about loans or loan waivers as there are far more serious issues," Sainath said.

"The loan waiver is a tool, but not a transformation. They are a mechanism but not a solution. They are a relief but not an answer," he said.

In remarks broadcast on YouTube channel, Sainath, who has written extensively on the Indian agricultural sector, took a dig at Modi government.

"The BJP manifesto promised to implement the Swaminathan Report," he said.

"But after coming to power, in the Supreme Court, they submitted an affidavit saying this cannot be done. The government did not give any explanation why it lied to the people and the nation." 

The National Commission on Farmers (NCF), constituted under the chairmanship of Swaminathan, suggested a Minimum Support Price (MSP) including an additional 50 per cent over and above the total expenses incurred on farming. 

Sainath described the recent farmers' protests as the "manifestations of crisis". 

"Try to understand farmers' crisis and do not try understanding agrarian situation to events and episodes of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu farmers protesting in Delhi and the killing of farmers in Mandsaur (Madhya Pradesh) in police firing.

"These are the manifestations of a crisis, they are not the crisis," he said. Sainath urged bureaucrats, people and think tanks to understand the farm crisis. 

He said the protests this year did not start in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions but in the most prosperous areas of Maharashtra like Nashik and the state's western belt.

He criticised Chief Ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan of Madhya Pradesh and Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra for not having a dialogue with the farmers earlier.

"Both the CMs refused to speak with the farmers in the earlier stage of the protests, which angered the farmers," he said.

Farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have asked the government to write off their loans and to give a good price for their produce.