New Delhi/ Ahmedabad/ Guwahati: After newly formed Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh governments announced a waiver on farmers' debts, the BJP-ruled Gujarat government, too, waived power dues worth Rs 625 crore. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Tuesday decided to forgo the dues of residential, commercial and agricultural power connections with immediate effect.
Minister for Power Saurabh Patel said, "We have decided to waive all the dues from such power connections with immediate effect from December 19. There are more than 6.22 lakh consumers with such connections, who will be able to avail of the one-time settlement by paying just Rs 500. The total dues of such connections are around Rs 625 crore."
The minister said that even those who have lost their power connections permanently or temporarily due to non-payment of dues will also be able to avail of the waiver and could get their connections restored. "This is a historic decision, said Saurabh Patel.
Minister of state for Power Pradeepsinh Chudasama said, "The waiver also applies to customers against whom there are charges of power theft as well as non-payment due to financial problems. The procedure to restore the disconnected power connections will be initiated shortly."
All the residential, commercial and agricultural power connections with dues till December 18 will be considered eligible for the one-time waiver. It will be available from December 19 2018 to February 28, 2019.
Following Gujarat, the Assam government too waived off loans of farmers. The Rs 600 crore-waiver is likely to benefit 8 lakh farmers. Assam Government will write off 25 per cent loan of farmers up to a maximum of Rs 25,000 of all farm debts.
Earlier, bolstered by the victory in the just-concluded Assembly elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Congress and other opposition parties will not allow him to sleep but force him to waive the loans of farmers across the country.
"I want to say that Congress and other opposition parties will together force Modi to waive farmers' debt. We will stand, fight, not budge an inch. We will not let him sleep at night till the time he waives the loan of farmers. I wanted to give you this message, tell this to the farmers," he said.
"I want to tell the poor farmers that this is your country. It is not of 15-20 industrialists. Injustice is being meted out to you. You (farmers) work day and night and provide food to the country and your voice is never heard. We are ensuring that your voice is heard. We have done it in three states and you remember we will pressurise Narendra Modi ji to do it," he said during an interaction with the media in Parliament House complex.
Gandhi's attack on Modi came in the wake of the Congress ousting the BJP from power in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh last week on the plank of redressing rural and agrarian distress and other issues. Its chief ministers in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have announced the promised farm loan waiver soon after taking oath of office on Monday.
Gandhi said that his party's victory in the assembly polls was that of the poor, farmers, labourers and small shopkeepers.
He said Modi in his over four years in office has not waived a single rupee of farmers' loans but had written off Rs 3.5 lakh crore loans of 15-20 big industrialists using people's money.
He said Modi had the choice in the last four years to execute farm loan waiver or go for demonetisation and "give money to his friends."
"And he decided that he does not want to waive farmer loans. Now we will put such pressure on Narendra Modi. Not only Congress but every farmer of the country, we will take you all and get loans waived. Congress will stand with you. All opposition parties will stand with you. Do not be afraid, not be scared. Your work is going to be done," he said.
Gandhi said on one side there are small businessmen, labourers and farmers, and on the other side, there are 15-20 big industrialists.
"In the last four years, Modiji took your money and put 3.5 lakh crore in the pocket of those 15-20 industrialists. He creates two Indias - one of 15-20 people, loan waiver, private jets and the other of small businessmen, shops, labourers and farmers."
Gandhi said the party had promised that it will start the work of loan waiver in 10 days. "In two states it did not take six hours and it is going to be done in the third state."
Accusing Modi of showing favouritism in the Rafale deal, he said it will be inquired into and there will be a joint parliamentary committee."There will be a discussion in Parliament. You said you want to discuss so why are you running away. Come forward and tell about Rafale and tell the country why didn't you waive farmers' loans and tell when are you going to do it."
Asked if a Congress government will waive farmers' loans if the Modi government does not do so, Gandhi said the question need not have been asked.
"Guaranteed 100 per cent. If Modiji does not do it, we will do it."
Asked about the farm loan waiver by Karnataka, which is being ruled by a coalition of the JD-S and the Congress, Gandhi said it has also implemented it.
Modi had on Sunday accused the Karnataka government of committing excesses on farmers.
Gandhi said the Congress had fulfilled its promise in the states. "One day, it will happen at the national level."
News24 Bureau/ IANS