Bengaluru: Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal Secular has said that waiver of farm loans will be done, and if it was taking a little more time than expected, it was only because he needed to take his coalition partner, the Congress, along on all decisions.
- Karnataka Chief Minister Kumaraswamy meets farmers
- Kumaraswamy reassures farmers about farm loan waiver
- Have to take coalition partner along; give me time, says Kumaraswamy
"This government is not in the sleeping mode. We are at the work of Karnataka citizens," Mr Kumaraswamy said after the meeting of farmer leaders, top officials and the BJP to draw up the contours of the loan waiver. The assertion was a response to barbs from the BJP's BS Yeddyurappa who has been targeting the chief minister, accusing him of going back on his loan waiver promise.
Manifestos of all parties released before the election spoke of farmer distress. Mr Kumaraswamy, who still doesn't have a cabinet in place because of differences with its ally the Congress over the division of portfolios, held the meeting to take the farm loan waiver plan forward and to reassure farmers that he was serious about the issue.
But all was not smooth sailing as farmers argued among themselves too as well as expressing doubt about the government's intentions. They kept insisting that the discussion focus on the loan waiver.
Farmers' representatives were outspoken. "We have not come here to beg. We need help because of the drought," one farmer said.
Mr Kumaraswamy appealed for time.
"This government will not go tomorrow. We are here for five years. We are here to help you. You have to give me breathing space. Give me time," the chief minister told them.
His deputy G Parameshwara of the Congress added, "We are talking of 53,000 crores. Mr Kumaraswamy may have taken that decision if his party had formed the government by itself. As a coalition government we have to take decisions together."
The BJP was also represented at the meeting by deputy leader of the opposition, Govind Karjol. He was shouted down at times as farmers demanded to know what the central government was doing to help.
The BJP has been putting pressure on the coalition government to waive the loans and had called a state-wide bandh on Monday on the issue that did not get a very strong response.
The farmers at the meet want more than empty promises.
Harish of the Karnataka state farmers' association, told NDTV that farmers needed, "These are all just short-term solutions. We need minimum support price - we need long term solutions."