Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday virtually launched his party’s campaign for the Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, scheduled for around November, by promising loan waiver to farmers within 10 days if the Congress is voted to power.
To mark the first anniversary of the farmers’ protest at Mandsaur that killed six people in police firing, Mr. Gandhi addressed a Kisan Samriddhi Sankalp [Farmer Prosperity Resolve] rally at the Piplia Mandi ground in Mandsaur, where he accused the BJP governments across the country of being “anti-farmer.”
“From this stage, I want to tell the farmers of Mandsaur and across the country… Kamal Nathji and Scindiaji (Jyotiraditya) are here. The day the Congress comes to power… I guarantee that farmers’ loan will be waived within 10 days. It won’t take even 12 days,” said Mr. Gandhi amid loud cheers from the crowd.
“In the entire county, farmers are demanding their rights, yelling and committing suicide, but the Modi government and the BJP government in the States have little space for them,” the Congress chief said in a reference to the on-going strike by farmers. He accused the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government of “usurping 15% from a farmer’s earnings.”
Justice for firing victims
He promised “justice for the victims of police firing” within 10 days by seeking accountability of officials who ordered the police to open fire on farmers last year. Before the rally, he met the families who had lost their loved ones in the firing.
The Congress chief launched an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming that he was not ready to listen to the plight of the farmers while he was willing to write off ₹2.5 lakh crore in bank dues of 15 top industrialists.
“I met the Prime Minister only once and told him that crores of farmers have sent me here. They want me to bring their voices to you, talk about their problems. But he only had this [paused for about 10 seconds to imply Mr. Modi’s silence] to offer. Narendra Modi ji didn’t offer one word for the farmer,” he alleged.
In contrast, he argued, the UPA government had waived ₹70,000 crore in farm loans.
Loss of jobs
Mr. Gandhi took a dig at BJP’s pre-election promise of putting ₹15 lakhs in every Indian’s bank account by asking the crowd if they had received even one rupees from PM Modi. “If you want to listen to lies, then you are wasting your time here,” he said.
Mr. Gandhi asserted that his party sought to transform the lives of the people in MP by improving agriculture, setting up food processing units in every district and creating jobs for the youth.
Pointing out that right now everything was ‘Made in China’ and India was losing jobs, he said: “I have a dream that five years from now, when I come here, the phone I use is Made in Mandsaur.”
In the faction-ridden Madhya Pradesh Congress, Mr Gandhi talked about fighting elections as a team, took care to name both Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia and had a clear message: “My message to the leaders is that they hit the streets and connect with the people on the ground. Those who connect with the matti [soil] of Madhya Pradesh will form the government.”