Maya advertises against new Budget, Cong in fury

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Lucknow, Mar 2: Uttar Pradesh government advertisement against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's populist budget has invited criticism from the Congress and has initiated another round of political debate in the state over the farmers in the drought-hit Bundelkhand region.

''Loan waiver for the farmers is a reasonably belated step, but it will solve the problem only partially, as it is not clear as to how the loan amount will be waived off and when the loan amount would be made available to the banks,'' said Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati through an advertisement. The UP government in a full page advertisement in the local media here today questioned the issue of the fate of the farmers, who have taken loan from moneylenders, as they constitute about 46 per cent of the total indebted farmers.

Besides, the Centre had ignored 3.32 lakh farmers in the drought-affected Bundelkhand, who have over two hectares land and are burdened with debt worth over Rs 11,000 crore. The BSP government also criticised the Centre for not taking into consideration the loan amount to the tune of Rs 332 crore given to 6.74 lakh beneficaries by the UP SC/ST, Backward and Minorities Corporations.

However, announcement of the loan waiver scheme for the small and marginal farmers has come as a political set back for UP Chief Minister, who had been targeting the UPA government for not sanctioning the special package for the seven districts of Bundelkhand.

Ms Mayawati during her January 29 rally had announced to waive the interest on the crop loans of small and marginal farmers and demanded the Centre to share half the burden for waiving the principal amount. However, in the Budget, the Centre has waived off the entire amount of interest and principal on all outstanding loans on the small and marginal farmers.

Meanwhile, elated UP Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi, responding on the advertisment said, the loan waiver is much more than ''Sanjivini'' for the farmers of Bundelkhand and two other drought-hit districts of Sonebhadra and Mirzapur of the state. Taking strong note of today's full page advertisement by the UP government, she said such a thing only proves the political weakness of a party and Congress will certainly take legal opinion to take action against the government for such undemocratic stand.

''Countering the Union Budget through advertisement was anti-constitutional as political parties debate the issue in Parliament'', she maintained.

As per the UP government records, total outstanding agricultural loans and overdue as on December 31, 2007 in seven districts of Bundelkhand was around Rs 13,148 crore. This included Rs 10,173 crore of principal amount and Rs 304 crore as interest. In seven districts of Bundelkhand the number of loan accounts as on December 31 2007 was 9.28 Lakh.

The total number of agricultural loan accounts by the end of December 2007, in whole of UP, were over 46 Lakh and total outstanding including principal and interest during the same period was over Rs 2000 crore. Till the end of December 31, as many as 14 lakh Recovery Certificates (RC) were issued by 10,437 branches of nationalised banks, regional rural banks, district cooperative banks and 13 private banks in UP.


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