Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday sounded the party’s poll bugle in Madhya Pradesh by promising to waive farm loans if his party returned to power in the state in the year-end elections.
Addressing a farmers’ rally at Pipliya Mandi in Mandsaur in the state, exactly a year after six farmers were killed there in police firing during an agitation, Mr Gandhi said, “Kamal Nath (MP Congress president) and Jyotiraditya Scindia (the state poll campaign committee chairman) are sitting here. The day the Congress comes to power in MP, count 10 days, I say with guarantee that farmers’ loan will be waived within 10 days. It won’t take even the eleventh day.”
Mr Gandhi paid tribute to the six farmers slain in police firing and met their kin.
Lashing out at the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government for not making the probe report of the Mandsaur police firing incident public, Mr Gandhi announced that cops responsible for the killings would be punished if his party returns to power in the state.
He lambasted the state government as well as the Centre for failing to mitigate the pain of farmers, leading to growing incidents of suicide deaths of ryots (an Indian peasant or tenant farmer).
“As many as 1,200 farmers ended their lives in MP due to mounting debts. Has any member of debt-ridden rich families committed suicide?” he asked.
Mr Gandhi declared that if the Congress is voted to power at the Centre, it would bring in legislation to ensure a fixed income for farmers.
Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of waiving Rs 2.5 lakh crore of 15 industrialists, when neither the BJP-led Union or state governments had extend even a one-rupee assistance to farmers, Mr Gandhi claimed that the Congress-ruled states of Punjab and Karnataka have waived farm loans. He further said that his plea to the Prime Minister to write off farmers’ loans was yet to be heeded to.
Hitting back at the Congress president, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said, “Every time I listen to the view of Rahul Gandhi, both inside and outside Parliament, I ask myself the same question — How much does he know? When will he know?”
“Listening to his speech delivered in Madhya Pradesh today reaffirms my curiosity about the answer. Is he being inadequately briefed or is he being a little too liberal with his facts,” Mr Jaitley wrote in a Facebook post titled “How much does he know”.
Providing a six-point rebuttal to what Mr Gandhi had said at the rally, Mr Jaitley rejected the accusation that the PM had waived the loans of Rs 2.5 lakh crore of 15 top industrialists, calling it completely false.
The government, he said, has not waived a single rupee due from any industrialist.
On the Congress president’s comment that Mr Modi has given Rs 35,000 crore each to two diamond jewellers who have fled the country, Mr Jaitley said this is factually incorrect and added that the banking fraud started in 2011 when the UPA II was in power but was detected during the NDA period.
Assembly polls are due in Madhya Pradesh in November this year along with Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.