Bengaluru: A week after swearing-in as the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Janata Dal Secular leader H D Kumaraswamy said waiver of farm loans will be done, and if it was taking a more time than expected, it was only because he needed to discuss all matters with his coalition partner, the Congress.
“This government is not in the sleeping mode. We are at the work of Karnataka citizens,” 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 B S Yeddyurappa who has been targeting Kumaraswamy, accusing him of going back on his loan waiver promise.
Manifestos of all parties released before the assembly election on May 12, spoke of farmer distress. Kumaraswamy, who still doesn't have a cabinet in place because of differences with its collation partner 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.
However, all was not well as farmers argued among themselves 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," a farmer said.
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," Kumaraswamy told them.
Deputy Chief Minister of Karnataka G Parameshwara of the Congress added, "We are talking of 53,000 crores. 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....