Mumbai: Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil on Wednesday questioned the central government's decision to "write off debts of 63 industrialists, including Vijay Mallya", and "treachery" of farm loans.
"They brought farmers and common people on the road in the name of eradicating black money, and now the public sector State Bank Of India (SBI) writes off Rs 7,016-crore loans of 63 industrial houses... This is a fraud," Vikhe-Patil said.
If the government can facilitate the big industrialists in this fashion, then why should the farmers be deprived of a similar loan waiver, he asked.
Vikhe-Patil was referring to media reports on Wednesday which claimed that the SBI has written off the bad debts of a clutch of big and small defaulters, including the absconder liquor baron Mallya, the founder of the defunct Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.
He said if demonetisation is to dig out black money, then it should be utilised to clear off all farmland debts and the farmers and the common masses must have the first right over it.
Vikhe-Patil pointed out that it was during this government's tenure that Vijay Mallya defaulted on his loans worth thousands of crores and then fled to London.
"It is shocking... The attachment process of his properties was initiated long back and there was a possibility of recovering some portion of the banks' dues by auctioning those. Under this scenario, how could SBI write off his debts?" Vikhe-Patil said.
In contrast, for the past four years, the farmers in the state have been reeling under natural calamities and cycles of droughts and floods, he said. "But the government could not give them proper prices for their agricultural produce. Their losses were not compensated, driving them to suicide."
"The government failed to give loan waiver where it was necessary, but it has shown magnanimity by writing off the debts of a handful of rich defaulting industrialists. Is this the government's style of inclusive development (Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas)," he asked sarcastically.