Loan waiver will not benefit Congress: Sinha

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Nagpur, Mar 7 (UNI) Former Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has said that the loan waiver for farmers holding up to 5 acres of land, announced by the Centre recently, would not benefit the Congress at all in the coming general elections.

''The Congress is mistaken if it thinks that such populist measures, announced in the last year of the regime of a government, will influence the voters. Such last-minute steps do not sway the people. They are much more mature,'' Mr Sinha told reporters here today.

Not only the Congress, even the ''other parties'' that are holding rallies to welcome the loan waiver, stood to lose because of the decision, Mr Sinha said without naming any party but in an obvious reference to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

There were many problems, including administrative difficulties, that would hamper the implementation of the decision, Mr Sinha said.

''I cannot understand how the waiver would be completed by June 30, 2009, as Finance Minister P Chidambaram has announced,'' he said.

A lot of farmers would not get any benefit from the waiver, Mr Sinha asserted, adding that the spate of suicides by cultivators continued in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra in spite of the decision.

It was also not clear as to how the government would raise the Rs 60,000 crore needed to bankroll the loan waiver, he said. The Finance Minister had said he would reveal the plans in due course of time, Mr Sinha pointed out, but declined to comment when asked what options Mr Chidambaram had to raise the necessary funds to reimburse the banks.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has formed a committee to monitor and study the implementation of the loan waiver scheme, of which he himself is the head, Mr Sinha added.

UNI AB MAZ RC KN1617

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