Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched his party’s campaign for the Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, scheduled in November, by promising the State’s farmers a loan waiver within 10 days of the party coming to power.
To mark the first anniversary of farmers’ protest at Mandsaur that killed six people in police firing, Mr. Gandhi addressed a public rally at the Pipli Mandu ground of Mandsaur.
“From this stage, I want to tell the farmers of Mandsaur and across the country that the day our government comes to power, 10 days from that day, your loans will be waived. It won’t take 12 days,” said Mr. Gandhi to loud cheers.
He also promised that if the Congress came to power those who were responsible for opening fire on farmers last year will be punished within 10 days.
The Congress chief also launched an attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi by claiming that he was not ready to listen to the plight of the famers. “I met Prime Minister only once and told him that crores of farmers have sent me here. They want me to carry their voice to you, about their problems but he only had this (paused as if to imply there was nothing) to offer. Narendra Modi ji didn’t offer one word for the farmer,” Mr. Gandhi alleged.
In contrast, he argued, the UPA had waived ₹70,000 crore of farm loans and more recently done the same in Congres- ruled Punjab and Karnataka.
Mr. Gandhi said the party seeks the transform the lives of the people of the State by focusing on improving the farm sector and offer avenues of employment to the youth and would “focus all its energies on these two things.”
He said the Congress government would create a value food chain connecting farm gates to factory gates and set up a food processing unit in every district. “The money will come straight to your pocket and the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government will not be able to take even one rupee,” Mr. Gandhi said even as he alleged that the State Government took away 15 % due to corruption.
Pointing out that right now everything is made in China and India is losing out on jobs, he said, “I have a dream that five years from now, when I come here, the phone I use is made in Mandsaur.”
Aware of factionalism in the Congress, Mr. Gandhi mentioned both Kamal Nath and Jyotiraditya Scindia but also had a word for the leaders. “My message to the leaders is that people hit the streets and connect with the people of the ground. Those who connect with the mitti (soil) of Madhya Pradesh will find a place in government,” he said.