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Farm distress, loan waiver dominate poll narrative in Punjab hinterland

While the SAD has accused the Congress of cheating farmers, the Congress believes it has an advantage over the opposition party owing to its debt waiver that has benefited around 580,000 farmers.

, ET Bureau|
May 14, 2019, 08.31 AM IST
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Agencies
Wheat
With the Lok Sabha polls coinciding with wheat harvesting in the state, problems faced by farmers are the dominant election issue in rural areas.
The Congress is banking on its farm loan waiver scheme in Punjab as it faces relentless attack from arch-rival Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which is seeking to corner the ruling party over farmers’ distress in the run-up to polling on May 19 in the seventh and final phase of the general election.

While the SAD has accused the Congress of cheating farmers, the Congress believes it has an advantage over the opposition party owing to its debt waiver that has benefited around 580,000 farmers. “We came out with our loan waiver scheme without central help, and I want to assure the farmers of Punjab that we shall continue to stretch ourselves in every possible way to alleviate their sufferings,” said chief minister Amarinder Singh.

With the Lok Sabha polls coinciding with wheat harvesting in the state, problems faced by farmers are the dominant election issue in rural areas.

Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal has accused the CM of tardy procurement of wheat by causing shortage of gunny bags. The CM had earlier alleged that the gunny bags were diverted to Haryana, a BJP-ruled state.

Kaur said in her latest tirade that the Congress government in Punjab had put roadblocks to delay payment of the second instalment under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) direct income support scheme. She said that despite the hurdles the Union government had released ?2,000 each to 1.14 million farmers in the country.

The CM also alleged delayed transportation of old stock of wheat from warehouses of the state agencies. He maintained that the state government had taken all steps for smooth procurement and that reforms had been introduced in the labour policy to empower labourers.

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