The BJP's Odisha unit on Tuesday promised to waive farm loans in the state if the party comes to power in the 2019 Assembly elections.
The announcement was made by BJP state president Basant Panda at a press conference in Bhubaneswar. Assembly elections in Odisha are due in 2019 along with the Lok Sabha elections.
"We will waive farm loans if BJP comes to power in the state in the 2019 Assembly elections," Mr Panda told reporters, adding that the party will also make provision of interest free loans for the farmers in Odisha.
While highlighting the difficulties faced by farmers at different mandis, Mr Panda said the BJP would launch Mandi Chala Abhiyan from Wednesday till January 7 in which party members will protest the irregular functioning of mandis and the delay in paddy procurement in Odisha.
Though the Odisha government has opened 4,381 mandis across the state to procure paddy from farmers, the people are "facing difficulties" there, Mr Panda said.
He said BJP workers in Odisha will gherao the state secretariat on January 8 to press for their demand of farm loan waiver.
The ruling Biju Janata Dal in Odisha had already given a call for gherao of Parliament in Delhi on January 8 demanding proper minimum support price (MSP) on paddy.
On the BJD's proposed Parliament gherao plan, Mr Panda said, "The BJD is only shedding crocodile tears in the name of protest for farmers."
The BJD all along has taken "anti-farmers" stand during its 19 years of rule, he alleged.
The BJD criticised the BJP and termed its Mandi Chalo Abhiyan as a farce.
"Vinash Kale Vipreet Buddhi (taking wrong decisions when on path of destruction)," said BJD spokesman PK Deb.
On the BJP's demand of farm loan waiver, Mr Deb said, "BJP should ask Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in this regard. The Centre is opposed to farm loan waiver. There are other means to help farmers rather than announcing farm loan waiver."
Senior Congress leader Srikant Jena also asked the Naveen Patnaik government to announce loan waiver for farmers of all categories. Earlier, state Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik announced that they would waive loan of farmers if Congress comes to power in Odisha in the 2019 Assembly elections.
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