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Amarinder meets PM, bats for farm loan waiver

New Delhi: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and made a strong pitch for a one-time loan waiver for the debt-ridden farmers of the state.

Singh met Modi in his Parliament complex office, first time after becoming the Chief Minister.

“I mentioned the debt waiver issue to the PM. It was an extension of the demand we made earlier when we had gone to meet the PM as part of a Congress delegation led by party vice president Rahul Gandhi.

“I said the debt loan waiver should be extended to Punjab farmers along the lines of Uttar Pradesh,” he told reporters after meeting the Prime Minister here.

Singh expressed concern over the recent spate of farmers’ suicide in Punjab and requested the PM to announce a special package to pull out them out of the debt-trap.

He said the mounting farm debt is making agriculture increasingly unsustainable, endangering not only the food security of the nation but also the social fabric of the sensitive border state.

In a letter to Modi, the chief minister had said the total farm debt in Punjab was over Rs 80,000 crore including crop loans in cooperative sector of about Rs 12,500 crore.

The Punjab Chief Minister later called on President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in the evening and described the visit as a courtesy call.

Earlier, he met Finance Minister Arun jaitley to seek financial support for procurement of crop.

“Met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at his residence and asked him for immediate release of CCL for smooth wheat procurement in Punjab,” he said after the meeting.

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal also accompanied Amarinder during this visit.

“We have sought a support of Rs 20,653 crore on this account. The finance minister was very supportive. We expect wheat to land in mandis in two to three days,” Singh said.

On Congress strategist Prashant Kishor, who failed to deliver a victory for the Congress-SP combine in UP, he said, “I am very happy with Kishor. He fought well. His IPAC team of 1,700 volunteers had spread across villages and he had a team of 100 plus people in Chandigarh. We did well in Punjab.”

Over who would be the next chief of Punjab Congress, he said, “Let Congress president Sonia Gandhi return. I will request her to choose someone else since I as CM of Punjab cannot handle both the positions.”

Singh was here for a series of meetings with the government top brass during his first visit to the national capital after taking over as the state Chief Minister.