Publication: Times Of India Pune; Date:2008 Mar 05; Section:Front Page; Page Number 1
Pawar's bastion reaps most from loan waiver
Radheshyam Jadhav TNN
Pune: Even as political parties slug it out over who will get credit for the farmer loan waiver, Sharad Pawar will have the last laugh. His stronghold of western Maharashtra is likely to get more sops compared to other parts of the state. About 1.25 lakh farmers in Pune, 4 lakh in Kolhapur, 65,000 in Satara, 2.5 lakh in Ahmednagar, 1 lakh in Sangli and about 3 lakh farmers in Solapur will benefit from the loan waiver. This is the region from where Pawar's political power flows. In contrast, in Yavatmal district of Vidarbha which saw the maximum number of suicides over the last few years, only 1.5 lakh farmers are likely to benefit. In all, loans of approximately Rs 1,800 crore of farmers in the sugar belt will be waived while Rs 1,500 crore loans in Vidarbha will be cleared. NCP leaders admit that the party will benefit. Western Maharashtra is the stronghold of the NCP and out of party's 71 MLAs in the state assembly, 26 come from this region. Six out of 11 party MPs represent the sugar belt. "Most of the Vidarbha region is rainfed and the farmers here hold more than two hectares of land, which makes them ineligible to benefit for the loan waiver. The land-holdings in Western Maharashtra are by and large smaller, but is irrigated," said Kishor Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. He added that if the Vidarbha farmer gets a loan of Rs 4,000-5,000 per acre, his counterpart in the sugar belt can get a loan of upto Rs 1 lakh depending on the cultivation. " Paw a r 's bastion will get maximum benefit, while farmers who are really distressed will continue to suffer. We are not against farmers in the sugar belt being benefited, but distressed farmers should not be left out of the loan waiver," Tiwari said. The NCP is already riding the loan waiver wave. It has organised a series of rallies to celebrate the loan waiver. When TOI tried to contact Arun Gujarathi, the state unit chief of the NCP was busy with the celebration rally in Kolhapur.