The Congress is planning to promise a blanket farm loan waiver virtually touching every farmer in distress across the country in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections.
Congress sources said party chief Rahul Gandhi was keen on a loan waiver initiative that could make a big impact and a future Congress government would not mind spending Rs 3 to 4 lakh crore on it.
“The loan waiver will complement the minimum income guarantee initiative announced by the Congress president,” a senior Congress leader said.
Congress leaders believe that the loan waiver initiatives promised by the party in the run-up to the Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan paid off quite well electorally.
“By implementing the loan waivers within days of coming to power in the three states, the Congress also demonstrated its intent to work for the welfare of farmers and not just pay them lip service,” the leader said.
Rahul has already been highlighting how the loan waivers implemented by Congress governments in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and in JD(S)-Congress-run Karnataka have touched more than 1.6 crore farmers.
Congress has dismissed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election-eve income support scheme to farmers — PM-KISAN — under which the NDA government had already transferred Rs 2,000 each into bank accounts 1.1 crore farmers.
The Modi government has already announced a relaxation in rules to exempt the requirement of farmers' bank accounts to be linked to their Aadhaar numbers for becoming eligible for the second instalment after April 1.
Congress also plans to aggressively pursue expansion of food processing industries to ensure that farmers get more options to sell their produce and cut wastage of fruits and vegetables.
Party leaders believe that the thrust on the food processing sector would also help generate more employment opportunities that would help ease the job crisis in the country.
The Congress manifesto is expected to be put up before the Congress Working Committee for approval. The manifesto is likely to be released closer to the election date.