After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "cruel joke" jibe at the Congress-JDS coalition government in Karnataka for its farm loan waiver scheme, Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy has termed the remark as "incorrect and unfortunate". The government has the figures ready and all the information is available online, he said.
"Our crop loan waiver is an open book and information is available online, unlike in many other states. The state government is handling tax payers' money with caution to reach the real beneficiaries -- the farmers," said the Chief Minister.
PM Modi was interacting with BJP's booth workers in Karnataka through video-conferencing from New Delhi when he said the state's loan waiver scheme was a "cruel joke on farmers". PM Modi has been attacking the HD Kumaraswamy-led government saying only 800 farmers have got benefits since May.
"The farmers want attention. But those in power in Karnataka are steeped in arrogance. The common man wants development, but those in power want only development of a dynasty. People want corruption-free development, but the state government wants development-free corruption," PM Modi had said.
The Karnataka government, however, claims that about 60,000 farmers had been paid Rs 350 crore directly into their bank accounts. Around one lakh farmers would be paid Rs 400 crore through electronic transfer by next week, an official statement said.
"All middlemen in the cooperative sector have been weeded out. Other states have shown keen interest in our system, which uses Aadhaar details, electronic authentication of land records and ration cards to ensure only genuine farmers get the waiver," said Mr Kumaraswamy and added that PM Modi's remark "demeans our efforts for political gain".
He accused the centre of ignoring the protests of distressed farmers in Delhi and mocking the Karnataka government's serious efforts.
On Saturday, PM Modi had again hit out at the Congress, which recently waived farm loans in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, for "misleading" farmers with what he described as "lollipops".
To win elections they are stabbing the farmer in the back, the prime minister said.
"Be wary of the Congress and its lies," he said at a rally in UP's Ghazipur, days after party chief Rahul Gandhi had said he would "not let PM sleep or rest" until the centre writes off farm loans across the country.
Even as there has been no official announcement yet, a farm relief plan that goes beyond loan waivers is being worked out by the centre.
Sources say PM Modi held discussions with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, BJP chief Amit Shah and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh, and the government is expected announce a new set of measures for farmers before the end of the winter session on January 5.
Among the ideas discussed in the meeting were extending schemes by two BJP governments to the national level. One of them is the scheme of the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh to pay the farmers the difference between Minimum Support Price and the market price.