Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday announced a loan waiver for farmers who owe up to Rs 2 lakh to banks till September 30 this year. This is the first big move of the newly formed Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Uddhav Thackeray since it came in power.

This was also the much-anticipated move of MVA and debatable as well which came on the last day of the winter session of the Maharashtra Assembly.

While speaking to the mediapersons, Thackeray said, “This scheme, called ‘Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Farm Loan Waiver Scheme’ will be implemented from March 2020 onwards. The upper limit for the loan waiver will be Rs 2 Lakh.”

The move was welcomed by Sena’s alliance partners Congress and NCP as well.

Attacking Sena on the decision, the Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis demanded a 100 per cent debt-waiver for the peasantry. Fadnavis also staged a walkout from the Assembly. BJP termed the decision as a betrayal of the farmers.

“The government will also work out a special scheme for those farmers who are repaying their loan dues on schedule. Farmers will not have to run around or stand in queues nor make applications,” Thackeray promised on the scheme, tentatively estimated to cost around Rs 40,000 crore to the state exchequer.

With a view to making the administration more decentralized, Thackeray also announced a scheme whereby the Chief Minister’s Office would go close to the citizens instead of the people rushing to the CMO in Mantralaya, in Mumbai.

“A small branch of the CMO, linked with the CMO Mumbai, will be set up in every district to handle the complaints and issues concerning the people. They need not travel long distances to Mumbai for their work now,” Thackeray said.

Maharashtra CM also said that the scheme will be absolutely transparent and systematic with the money going directly into the beneficiary farmers’ bank accounts without making any online application and other things. This was mandated by the Fadnavis government.

Kishore Tiwari, president of Vasantarao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM), who is also the Minister of State, welcomed the move. He termed the decision as a bold decision with far-reaching ramifications for the poor farmers in the state.

“It will be given directly to the farmers in a transparent manner and will wipe clean the loans of 90 per cent of the poor peasantry, particularly those falling in the suicide-prone zones. The remaining are the ‘creamy layer’ farmers who have availed of big loans and also have the capacity to repay,” Tiwari told IANS.

Waiving the farmers’ loan debt was a major issue in the state as it was always pitched by political parties in the Maharashtra Assembly elections as well as Lok Sabha elections.

(With inputs from IANS)