By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, December 18, 2018: The BJP’s Odisha unit Tuesday promised to waive farm loans in the state if the party comes to power in the 2019 Assembly polls.

BJP state president Basant Panda made this announcement at a press conference here.

Earlier, state Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik announced that they would waive loan of farmers if Congress comes to power in Odisha in the 2019 Assembly elections.

Both the announcements come in the wake of Assembly elections in Odisha due in 2019 along with the Lok Sabha elections.

“We will waive farm loans, if BJP comes to power in the state in the 2019 Assembly elections,” Panda told reporters, adding that the party will also make provision of interest free loans for the farmers in Odisha.

Panda said the BJP members would launch ‘Mandi Chala Abhiyan’ from Wednesday till January 7. The BJP members would protest irregular functioning of ‘mandis’ and delay in paddy procurement in the state.

Though the Odisha government has opened 4,381 mandis across the state to procure paddy from farmers, the people are “facing difficulties” there, Panda said.

The ruling Biju Janata Dal in Odisha had given a call for gherao of Parliament in Delhi on January 8 demanding proper minimum support price (MSP) on paddy.

On the BJD’s proposed Parliament gherao plan, Panda said: “The BJD is only shedding crocodile tears in the name of protest for farmers.”

The BJD all along has taken “anti-farmers” stand during its 19 years of rule, he alleged

He said BJP workers in Odisha will gherao the state secretariat on January 8 to press for their demand of farm loan waiver..

The BJD criticised the BJP and termed its ‘Mandi Chalo Abhijan’ as a farce. “Vinash Kale Vipreet Buddhi (taking wrong decisions when on path of destruction),” said BJD spokesman P K Deb.

On the BJP’s demand of farm loan waiver, Deb said: “BJP should ask Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in this regard. The Centre is opposed to farm loan waiver. There are other means to help farmers rather than announcing farm loan waiver.”

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