BJP on Wednesday staged a protest in the Karnataka assembly by entering the well of the House on the farm loan waiver issue, alleging that the government was "lying" to farmers. Slogans like "down to the government that is lying", "loan waiver should be implemented" reverberated in the assembly, which is holding its winter session here. With the ruling Congress-JD(S) MLAs also on their toes to defend the government, the scene turned chaotic.
Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy was locked in a high pitch verbal duel with Opposition BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa during the debate on drought. As Yeddyurappa raised questions on loan waiver, stating that only Rs 50 crore was waived so far, Kumaraswamy raised his voice and said "my government is stable. We are strong financially. I need not wait for any nationalised bank (for going ahead), whether they agree or not." He also alleged that the opposition was misleading and confusing farmers on the loan waiver issue.
Questioning the Chief Minister's conduct, Yeddyurappa asked him to behave "responsibly." BJP members too raised objections to Kumaraswamy's conduct and entered into the well of the House, shouting slogans against the government, leading to an adjournment. "The government was only making claims about loan waiver for the last six months but has only waived Rs 50 crore from nationalised banks so far. There was no clarity on cooperative bank loans also.
When questioned, the Chief Minister has no clear answers and responds irresponsibly. This is not the way," Yeddyurappa said. Speaking on the farm loan waiver issue, Kumaraswamy asked farmers and opposition to "trust" his government. Listing out the steps taken by the government to implement the loan waiver, he said the government has full clarity on farm loan waiver and we have created a separate a cell with an IAS officer for this purpose."
About 44 lakh farmers who obtained loans from both nationalised and cooperative banks would benefit from the waiver, the Chief Minister said. "We can't lie to people on such an important issue as we have to face the parliamentary elections next year," he said. Pointing out at issues with nationalised banks on loan waiver, he said they had earlier announced a one-time settlement for NPA accounts, but now had gone back on their words.
State government officials were negotiating with these banks, he said, as he accused Yeddyurappa of being in constant touch with the same banks. Angered by the Chief Minister's comments, Yeddyurappa asked "what do you mean?. Speak responsibly," triggering a war of words between both the leaders.
Earlier too, both leaders had a heated exchange on the issue of the Chief Minister allegedly being inaccessible to people as he was now staying in a five-star hotel. Reacting to charges by Yeddyurappa while initiating the debate last week, Kumaraswamy said he had taken a room at a five-star hotel in Bengaluru due to health reasons as he has been advised for a morning walk by doctors, which was not possible at his private residence.
He also said no office files or officials were allowed to his hotel room and he was not involved in any transfer racket. "If there is any proof that I was involved in the transfer racket, I will not stay in office for a second," he said, adding that he was accessible to the public and regularly addressed their needs.
(With inputs from agencies.)