Bargarh (Odisha): Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of deceiving people, mainly farmers, with false promises, Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday asserted his party always keeps its words after winning elections.
“We do whatever we say. We have always translated our words into action. The Congress does not make false promises to people like Modi does,” he told a Congress rally in this west Odisha town in the run up to the Lok Sabha and state assembly elections next month.
Gandhi said his party’s track record in fulfilling election promises can be seen in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where it came to power recently.
While farm loans were waived soon after the party formed its governments in these states, the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for paddy was hiked to Rs 2,500 per quintal in Chhattisgarh.
“We wanted to give a message to farmers in these states that they are not alone and that the Congress is with them. The same message is also being sent out to the farmers of Odisha and they should back our party,” he said.
This was Gandhi’s first visit to Odisha after the announcement of the election schedule. He had earlier visited Bhubaneswar on January 25, Bhawanipatna and Rourkela on February 6 and Koraput on March 8 to bolster the poll prospects of the Congress, which has been out of power in the state since 2000.
“Modi is in the habit of telling lies and making false promises to deceive people. Farmers across the country are the worst victims of the BJP’s hollow and deceptive words,” he said.
Asserting that the Congress is fighting a battle of ideology, Gandhi said his party is trying its best to unite the country, while Modi is adopting a “divisive policy.”
“The Congress is in the process of connecting all castes, creeds, provinces and languages, while Modi is trying to spread hatred and is pursuing a divisive policy in the name of caste, creed and religion,” he alleged.
Gandhi appealed to the people to vote for the Congress as the party can take the country, and Odisha in particular, on the path of speedy development.
Claiming that the country is witnessing farmer suicides every day, the Congress chief said distressed peasants are forced to take the extreme step as the Modi government failed to fulfil its promise of mitigating their plight.
“Farmer suicides are reported every day as the Modi government did not keep its promises. It made tall claims about welfare of farmers, but refused to waive their loans and hike the MSP of paddy,” Gandhi said.
Though the BJP promised to provide remunerative prices for farm produce, no such step was taken after it came to power in 2014, he claimed.
“Modi speaks about farmers and their welfare in all his speeches. He makes tall claims about improving farmers’ lives, but when it comes to action he helps only his industrialist friends,” Gandhi said.
Attacking Modi, the Congress president said the prime minister had promised that his government would create at least two crore jobs annually, bring back black money stashed abroad and deposit Rs 15 lakh in everyone’s bank account, but nothing happened.
Though the BJP-led government readily decided to write off Rs 3.5 lakh crore debt of 15-20 industrialists, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley rejected the plea for farm loan waiver, he said.
Describing Bargarh as the rice bowl of Odisha, the Congress leader said farmers are committing suicide here too as both the Centre and the BJD government in the state have failed to address their problems.
The Congress president accused the Modi government of attempting to snatch away the land of farmers and tribals, and handing them over to industrialists.
“The Modi government made at least three attempts to change the land acquisition act to give shape to this evil designs,” he alleged.
Asserting that no land can be taken from farmers and tribals without their consent, Gandhi said land acquired from them for setting up industries must be returned if no project comes up within five years of acquisition.
In Bastar district of Chhattisgarh, a piece of land was taken back from an industrial house as it was lying idle for more than five years, he said.
Maintaining that the Congress is keen on investing substantially in health and education, Gandhi accused Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik of trying to privatise both the sectors.
He said the Congress favours proper utilisation of public money, and if his party comes to power, steps will be taken to ensure affordable healthcare to all.
Gandhi once again raked up the Rafale fighter jet deal controversy, insisting the government “doled out” Rs 30,000 crore to industrialist Anil Ambani.
Assailing the Centre over the Goods and Services Tax regime, he said the “Gabbar Singh Tax” will be simplified to help small businessmen and traders.
The Congress leader said the Naveen Patnaik government has failed to keep its promise of building a network of cold storages, strengthening irrigation and setting up food processing industries.