Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday will chair his government’s first cabinet meeting in Lucknow. The meeting will take place over a fortnight after the Adityanath government was sworn-in on March 19. The main focus will be on farm loan waiver, electricity in rural areas and an ordinance on slaughterhouses, which BJP had pitched during the Assembly elections campaign, according to a report. Led upto the elections, Prime Minister Naredra Modi had said that farmers loan will be waived off in the first cabinet meeting, if BJP forms the government. The BJP, in its Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra (manifesto), had promised to waive the loans of small and marginal farmers. Expectations will be high as BJP got the historic manadate and outcome of the meeting will analyzed by opposition who will seek to corner the ruling dispensation if there is any shortcoming.
State Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said a proposal prepared for farm loan waiver will be presented before the cabinet at its first meeting. Though state Health Minister Siddharth Nath Singh maintained that the agenda of the meeting was yet to be finalised, sources said the government was likely to take a decision on waiving the loans of small and marginal farmers. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya said the promises made in the BJP’s manifesto for the just-concluded state Assembly polls will be on the agenda of the Adityanath government’s first cabinet meeting. “Decisions on a number of important issues will be taken at the cabinet meeting on April 4. The focus will be on honouring the promises made in the party’s manifesto,” he said.
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According to a report, Government sources said around 2.30 crore farmers in the state suffered losses due to natural calamities in the recent past and were unable to repay loans amounting to about Rs 62,000 crore. They also said that it could be difficult to handle the burden of loan waiver in a single financial year and that was one of the reasons to put the cabinet meeting on hold till a way was found to honour the prime minister’s poll promise that the BJP government would take a decision on farm loan waiver at its first cabinet meeting.
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Besides farm loan waiver, the cabinet is likely to take important decisions regarding legalising slaughterhouses, licenses of meat-sellers, extending more help to the water-scarce Bundelkhand region and sorting out the problems related to Purvanchal — issues mentioned in BJP’s manifesto.
Since the Adityanath government was keen on giving a final shape to the prime minister’s promise, it waited for two weeks to make a detailed plan and work out the financial intricacies before putting the official stamp on farm loan waiver, a state Finance department spokesman said.
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As the loan amount is huge, the government had to mull various options, including raising loans, to honour the saffron party’s commitment.
The spokesman said Finance Minister Rajesh Agarwal had been busy holding deliberations with senior officials of his department to honour the pre-poll promise at the earliest.
The government will have to pay the banks for farm loan waiver. For that, it will either have to seek funds from the Centre or raise loans on its own, he added.
“Such decisions are not taken in haste. I can assure (you) that a decision will be taken and a large number of farmers will benefit from it,” Shahi had told PTI earlier.
Some officers were of the opinion that the cabinet could take a decision and formulate a policy in this regard later, but the chief minister insisted that the decision was taken once the policy was clear, so that there were no hurdles.
Following this, senior officers were engaged in working on various options before the matter could be placed before the cabinet.
(With agency inputs)