Firing a fresh salvo at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday accused him of shielding the interest of “15 selected people” and leaving “high and dry” farmers and the poor.
Gandhi was addressing an election rally in Lakhimpur Kheri to boost the prospects of the party’s candidate for the Kheri Lok Sabha seat Zafar Ali Naqvi and its nominee for the Nighasan assembly by-poll Atal Shukla.
Claiming that Modi during his last visit to Kheri had assured farmers in Uttar Pradesh that they will get their sugarcane dues within 14 days, the Congress chief asked, “Has any assurance come true in five years?”
“Narendra Modi in 2014 made a number of false assurances of ‘achhe din’ (better days), of two crore jobs, of Rs 15 lakh in every bank account but none of them came true,” he said.
Taking a jibe at Modi for referring to himself as “chowkidar (watchman)”, Gandhi alleged, “This chowkidar obliged 15 selected people during his five-year term but told sugarcane farmers that cane-farming caused sugar (diabetes).”
The diabetes remark is, however, mostly attributed to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Raking up the Rafale issue, the Congress chief said, “Anil Ambani, who never manufactured an airplane, was awarded with a Rs 30,000 crore contract, but cane farmers were told that cane-farming caused sugar (diabetes) when they demanded their dues.”
The government has repeatedly denied any corruption in the Rafale deal.
Elaborating on his party’s minimum income guarantee ‘Nyay’ scheme, Gandhi said, “The scheme was pronounced after due consultation with economists and think-tanks.”
“The scheme will provide annually Rs 72,000 in individual bank accounts of 25 crore poor people,” he said.
The party has promised to give an annual income support of Rs 72,000 to poor families under the scheme if voted to power, even as the BJP claimed ‘Nyay’ will “ruin” fiscal discipline and the Congress will impose new taxes on the middle class to finance it.
“The scheme has been thoroughly discussed and if crores of rupees owed by Anil Ambani, Vijay Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi can be waived, then Rs 3,60,000 crore for five crore families under Nyay can also be afforded,” Gandhi said in a bid to allay fears about the scheme’s feasibility.
He said, “Unlike notebandi (demonetisation) and ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ by Modi government which disturbed the economy and employment, Nyay will benefit the economy by enhancing demand for consumer goods and thus, boosting the manufacturing sector and employment.”
The Congress chief has often termed the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’.
The Congress’s manifesto reflects the views and suggestions of the common people and not “Mann ki Baat”, Gandhi said taking a swipe at Modi’s monthly radio broadcast.
He said as per suggestions from the people, the Congress manifesto provides no jail term for farmers who default loans.
“Similarly, the Congress has decided to present a separate budget for farmers so that they can know about MSP (minimum support price), bonus and cane dues in advance,” the Congress chief said.
He promised the youths that if the Congress is voted to power, the Centre will fill up 22 lakh government vacancies within a year after assuming office, besides employing 10 lakh youths in panchayats.
Gandhi also assured them “to scrap permission for new entrepreneurship for initial three years to boost self-employment”.
Raising the issue of stray cattle in UP, he said, “The Modi government has made every farmer chowkidar of their crops and he (PM) himself became the chowkidar of Ambani.”
He claimed that his party will form government at the Centre and that “after the Lok Sabha polls, the next target was (UP) assembly elections (in 2022) to ensure that the state is at the top in education, health and employment as before.”
Earlier, Congress general secretary in-charge of west UP Jyotiraditya Scindia made a scathing attack on the Modi and Adityanath governments and accused them of ignoring the farmers and youths.
“The Modi government promised to reduce the input cost by half and double the support price of farmers crops, But, after five years, the cost has doubled while MSP has come to half,” he said.
Scindia also raised the issue of stray cattle, mob lynching in the name of ‘gau-raksha’ and farmers suicide.
“People were beaten up in the name of gau-raksha but even now gau-matas were roaming on the roads and no gau-sewak was there to take care,” he said.
“In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government has decided to set up cow-shelters and to look after them,” Scindia pointed out.
Reminding people about loan waivers within two days of forming government in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Scindia said the Congress did what it promised and sought votes for the party in the ongoing elections “that will change the ‘dasha’ and ‘disha’ of the country”.