ALSO READGujarat polls: Struggling with narrative, BJP pins hopes on PM Modi Congress leader Ahmed Patel retains Gujarat Rajya Sabha seat with 44 votes Congress to launch campaign against 'high' fuel tax Dalits, Patidars, OBCs victims of Gujarat model: Jignesh Mevani Rahul Gandhi slams Modi, GST, industrialists in Gujarat: Top 10 highlights
Congress Vice-President (VP) Rahul Gandhi on Thursday promised loan waiver to farmers of Gujarat and free education in government aided colleges if the Congress party were to form the government. He said a policy to waive farm debt would be made within 10 days of the Congress forming the government. He also promised a 80% reduction in fees of unaided colleges.
Campaigning in the Patidar-dominated Amreli constituency, the Congress leader accused the Prime Minister of waiving loans worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore “of his five-ten industrialist friends", but was unwilling to waive debt of farmers. In its election campaign in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, the Congress party had promised farm-loan waiver in the two states.
The Congress VP tweeted that the debt on Gujarat was Rs 9,183 crore in 1995, which increased to Rs 2,41,000 crore in 2017. “This means each Gujarati is under the debt of Rs 37,000,” he said. This was the second of his ‘a question a day’ to the PM. The Congress also presented a critique of the Gujarat’s power sector.
In a counter to Rahul Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said the Gujarat state gross domestic product (GDP) was Rs 71,886 crore in 1995, which increase to Rs 10.35 lakh crore in 2016-17. “This is productive investment generating great returns on investment. As an NPA (non-performing asset) of the Congress you won’t understand,” Rao said.
During an interaction with traders in the evening, Rahul Gandhi responded to the controversy around his religious persuasion. He said his family, his grandmother as well as he, were worshippers of Lord Shiva, but religion for them was a private matter. The Congress leader said his family didn’t believe in doing politics over religion.
In Amreli, Rahul Gandhi spoke about the “plight” of farmers. He said Narmada waters were being diverted to benefit industrialists. He said Chief Minister Vijay Rupani runs on remote control, and BJP chief Amit Shah can change the channel whenever he wishes.
In a related development, Tata Motors countered Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that the Gujarat government extended undue favours of Rs 33,000 crore to the company for its car manufacturing facility at Sanand. Tata Motors said it got Rs 584.8 crore as loan, and not grant.
In a series of tweets, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram responded to the PM on goods and services tax (GST) rates. Modi had on Wednesday described the Congress suggestion to cap GST rates at 18% as “grand stupid thought”. “If it is a ‘Grand Stupid Thought’ to argue for a cap of the tax rate at 18%, then Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and many other economists are stupid. Is that what PM is saying?" Chidambaram tweeted.
We should wait for the growth rates over the next 3-4 quarters before we can reach a definite conclusion.— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 30, 2017
The Congress also held a press conference in New Delhi to claim the Modi government had written off Rs 1.88 lakh crore debt of those who had willfully defaulted. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the Centre waived Rs 49,018 crore in 2014-15, Rs 57,586 crore in 2015-16 and another Rs 81,683 crore in 2016-17, totalling Rs 1.88 lakh crore. The Congress leader said he was skeptical of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s claim that “recovery from 12 largest defaulters, who account for non-performing assets totalling Rs 1.75 lakh crore, is underway".
“We all know that top 50 corporates owe Rs 8.35 lakh crore to banks and out of those three, top Gujarat-based companies — Reliance (Anil Ambani Group), Adani and Essar — owe Rs 3 lakh crore. One of them had last month publicly declared that they are shutting their telecom business with a liability of Rs 45,000 crore due to banks. We would like to ask Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that far from declaring it as NPA, you are trying to help the defaulter with further defence contracts like the Rafale deal. Why?," Singhvi asked.