Armed with the announcement of farm loan waivers in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh the very day its chief ministers took oath, Congress President Rahul Gandhi promised a similar sop for all farmers across the country, if his party was voted to power. He issued a second promise: Sleepless nights to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, if the government did not address farmers’ issues.
“If the Modi government does not waive farm loans, we guarantee to do so, if voted to power in 2019,” Rahul Gandhi said. He said a united opposition will exert “such pressure on Modi that not a single farmer will be left out”. "The Congress and other opposition parties are behind you. You don't worry. Your work is being done,” he told farmers.
As he walked into the Parliament, Rahul Gandhi spoke about the farm loan waivers announced in the two states. “Dekha apne? Kaam shuru ho gaya hai (have you noticed? The work has already begun),” he said.
Rahul Gandhi declared that he would not let Prime Minister Narendra Modi “sleep or rest” till he gave a reprieve to farmers. He was clear that this process of forgiving and writing off farm loan would be a credo with the Congress, not just now but in the future.
He claimed that Modi didn't waive a single rupee of poor farmers. “We won't let Modi ji sleep or rest or sit in peace until we make him waive farmers’ loans,” he announced.
His resolve was, however, trashed by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who said, “This is a new low in public discourse in the country. But nothing better is expected from Rahul Gandhi whose party ensured that people of the country did not sleep for 60 years due to corruption, malgovernance and patronage of selected people.”
Rahul Gandhi also accused PM Modi of “creating two Indias” and reiterated his charge that PM Modi isn't concerned about the farmers of the country and only cares about his 15-20 entrepreneur friends. “On the one side you have farmers, poor, youth, small traders; and on the other you have the country's top 15 industrialists. He put Rs 3.5 trillion into their pockets,” the Congress chief alleged. Describing the notes ban in 2016 as the “world's biggest scam”, he said, “Demonetisation was also aimed at stealing money from the poor and giving it to the rich.”
As Rahul Gandhi spoke outside, inside the Lok Sabha the ruckus over the purchase of Rafale aircraft led to chaos with BJP MPs holding up placards, demanding an apology from the Congress leader following the Supreme Court verdict, which ruled out the need for a probe.
The BJP chorus didn't go down well with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. She stood up and requested the speaker to let her party leader Mallikarjun Kharge speak, after which she was seen instructing Congress floor coordinator Sushmita Deb.
With inputs from PTI