Akhilesh Yadav waives off loans of UP farmers
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav on Thursday waived off the loans of farmers on the occasion of Samjawadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's birthday.
Addressing media here, Yadav said that he had decided to waive off the loans given to farmers as it was a promise given before the state assembly elections that were held earlier this year.
"This was in our manifesto, so, we have decided to waive off the loans to farmers, including principle and the interest worth 50,000 rupees or more. As a result, about 16.5 billion rupees worth of loans of farmers would be waived off. We had already made arrangements in the budget. So we have delivered on what we had written in our manifesto," said Yadav.
But the scheme has a clause. It would apply to only those farmers who took the loan by mortgaging their property.
Also, such loans are given only by the Uttar Pradesh Land Development Bank.
Mulayam Singh Yadav was born to a rural family in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state with 200 million people and - since it sends more lawmakers to Delhi than any other - it's politically most important.
As a young man, he trained as a wrestler before being attracted to socialism and local politics, eventually becoming chief minister of the state three times and defence minister in a coalition government during the 1990s.
It is few months ago that his Samajwadi Party returned to power in Uttar Pradesh after a hiatus, Yadav stood aside for his son Akhilesh to head the state government. That, and what was perhaps about of ill-health, set off reports he was seriously ill and no longer well enough to hold office.
In India, where caste and family play hugely important roles in politics, the Yadavs have several advantages. They are from a land-owning lower caste whose members were mostly subsistence farmers and cattle herders, but have become wealthier, more politically aware and socially assertive in recent decades.
Yadav, his daughter-in-law Dimple, a cousin and a nephew are Members of Parliament.
A brother is in the Uttar Pradesh state government headed by Akhilesh.
On the negative side, the party is anathema for other lower caste groups. Critics also say it is tarred by association with people who have criminal pasts, and previous Samajwadi Party rule in Uttar Pradesh brought rampant corruption and increased violence.
Akhilesh is often compared to the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Rahul Gandhi, whose Congress party was burned by the Samajwadi win in the Uttar Pradesh elections earlier this year.