BHOPAL: Congress presidentRahul Gandhi's promise of a farm loan waiver+ if his party is voted to power in Madhya Pradesh seems to have helped it reap a rich harvest of votes and end 15-year-long wait for power.
In the wake of Rahul Gandhi's populist promise made during campaigning for the November 28 polls, cultivators did not sell their paddy produce and stocked them to reap the benefit of the promised loan write-off, a farmer leader said on Wednesday.
This was done to avoid paying loan installments to banks as sale proceeds would have been directly deposited in their accounts, he said.
The Congress chief had promised loan waiver for farmers within 10 days of forming the government in the state.
Madhya Pradesh State Cooperative Marketing Federation, popularly known as MP Markfed, procured just 67,148 metric tonnes (MT) of paddy from farmers between November 15 and December 8, an official said.
The paddy procurement was 4.30 lakh MT between the same period last year.
The procurement carried out by the MP Civil Supplies Corporation was also reportedly negligible, though its chairman Hitesh Bajpai did not provide any figures.
"Farmers held back their paddy produce knowing if they sell it off, their payment under Minimum Support Price (MSP) would be deposited in their accounts by government procurement agencies and the banks would deduct their loan installments," Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh (RKMM) president Shiv Kumar Sharma said.
"They have voted en masse for the Congress," he said.
On the polling eve, former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in an interview to PTI, had dismissed suggestions that paddy procurement was low due to Rahul Gandhi's loan waiver promise, and said it was due to late harvesting.
Shivraj had dubbed the Congress loan waiver promise as a "gimmick".
"It won't cast a shadow on polls because loans wont be waived in real term. They promised a loan waiver of Rs 58,000 crore in Punjab which got confined to just Rs 2,500 crore," Chouhan had said.
"If the Congress does not waive loans in 10 days as promised by Rahul Gandhi in his public meetings, we will launch a protest," said Sharma, a former RSS ideologue who also served as MP unit president of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.
The Congress has emerged as the single largest party in the state, winning 114 seats, two short of a simple majority of 116 in the 230-member house, but has claimed the support of seven more MLAs.
The BJP, ruling Madhya Pradesh since 2003, bagged 109 seats.
Acting chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Shivraj Singh Chouhan has asked the Congress to make good on party chief Rahul Gandhi's campaign promise of farm loan waiver.
"Rahul Gandhi has promised to waive farmers' loans within ten days of coming to power or change the chief minister. They must fulfil his promise," Chouhan said, speaking to reporters here.
The BJP would play the role of constructive opposition in the state, he said.
During the campaign, Rahul had promised to write off farmers' loans within ten days of the Congress coming to power. The promise was also part of the party's manifesto.
"Now it is our responsibility to play the role of chowkidar (watchman)," Chouhan said. "We are not going to sit silent," he added.
The BJP would soon start preparations for the Lok Sabha elections so that it again forms government at the Centre under Narendra Modi's leadership, Chouhan said.
Talking about the BJP's performance in the state, Chouhan, a three-time chief minister, said, "The complete responsibility of the defeat is mine alone. Party workers worked hard, people too gave us their love, but we fell short of numbers despite getting more votes (than the Congress)."
Asked why his party's slogan of "Abki Baar-200 Paar" (More than 200 seats this time) could not become reality, Chouhan said, "The CM has failed."
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