Tamil Nadu elections: AIADMK may benefit from last-minute loan waivers, Putting a break on Opposition.
Cauvery delta region farmers have welcomed the waivers announced by AIADMK, as they had been hit hard by storms, and the Covid lockdown that derailed food supply chains and markets.
Before the Assembly elections, AIADMK government’s two announcements in the last days of their term seem to be paying off: A decision to waive loans up to Rs 2 lakh taken by women’s self-help groups from cooperative banks, unions; and loans taken against jewels up to six sovereigns from agriculture cooperative institutions by farmers.
Cauvery delta region farmers have welcomed the waivers as they had been hit hard by storms, and the covid lockdown that derailed food supply chains and markets.
The state government claims that around 16 lakh have already benefiting as Rs12,110 crore worth of loans waived already.
General secretary of the Tamil Nadu Banana Growers’ Federation, G Ajithanwho took a Rs 1 lakh loan, says, “There are many farmers who haven’t been able to repay loans for months and the interest was mounting. The loan waiver will definitely fetch the AIADMK votes.”
Ajithan says he had 4,000 banana plants ready for harvest when the lockdown was declared last March. “I expected about Rs 8 lakh for the harvest. All I could get was Rs 80,000.”
He adds that because the date regarding who would benefit from the jewel loan waiver was not specified, “hundreds have rushed to pledge jewels”. “This is really going to help the AIADMK,” he says.
The DMK, that had in January promised similar waivers, hopes the move won’t swing enough votes to undo the anti-incumbency against the AIADMK.
AIADMK has also been accused by the opposition of favoring own party men for these loan waivers. P R Pandian, of the All Farmers’ Association in Tanjavur, asks why the delta region that accounts for 40% of state’s agrarian lands received only Rs 1,135 crore worth of loan waivers while Salem and Erode districts (in western Tamil Nadu, the stronghold of Palaniswami and several AIADMK ministers) received Rs 2,500 crore. “The entire West zone received about Rs 7,000 crore of the Rs 12,110 crore waivers,” Pandian says.
Mannargudi S Ranganathan, head of the Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Association, says parties make such announcements ahead of polls. “But if the motive is to help farmers, write off loans in private, nationalised banks.”