The agriculture minister of Uttar Pradesh has said it was not the state government’s fault that some farmers had very low bank loans, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday. “Where is the surprise if the government has distributed the certificate to a farmer waiving Rs 100 or even less, the amount that he actually owed to a bank?” asked Surya Pratap Shahi after reports suggested that meagre amounts were being waived.

According to official data, some 50 farmers got less than Rs 100 of their outstanding loans waived while 200 others got less than Rs 1,000 waived. Shahi, however, said that there were farmers whose loan waiver amount was as high as Rs 90,000 or more. “After all, we cannot make his dues bigger or smaller.”

The additional director of the state’ agriculture department , Rajesh Gupta, said there was no cap on the the minimum amount for the loan waiver scheme. He said there were around 8,000-10,000 farmers every district who paid their dues to banks in 2016-17, but some amount, which in many cases has been found to be less than Re 1, was due because of various reasons like mistake in interest calculation. “...We have waived only that amount and issued certificates accordingly against the information made available to us by the banks concerned,” he added.

However, an unidentified official told the Hindustan Times that the exercise of distributing certificates was to gain political mileage out of it. “This is perhaps the reason why the Adityanath government is distributing certificates with the chief minister and prime minister’s photos on them to farmers through camps that ministers attend to create a buzz,” said the official. “There was no need for distributing certificates because the loan amount is transferred to a farmer’s bank account much before he is given a certificate.”

Opposition parties in the state called the loan waiver scheme a fiasco. “It is laughable,” said Juhie Singh of the Samajwadi Party. Other leaders accused the Adityanath government of inflating the number of beneficiaries by waiving such meagre amounts.