Rajnath Singh, who is expected to succeed L K Advani as the next president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, hit out at the Manmohan Singh government for adopting 'anti-farmer polices' that has led to 'hundreds of farmers committing suicide' across the nation.
He was speaking on the economic resolution presented by Vijay Kumar Malhotra, deputy leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha. When L K Advani called his name to address the delegation, there were loud cheers amongst party workers welcoming the man who will be the BJP's guiding force over the next year.
Rajnath Singh painted a bleak picture of the economy, saying the 'slowly deteriorating situation' was a cause for concern and accused the Congress-led coalition of failures in checking the prices, creating more employment and boosting the reforms.
He recalled the time when he was the agriculture minister in the National Democratic Alliance, under the leadership of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, how the NDA government brought down the lending rates from 14.5 per cent to 6.5 per cent.
"Over 60 per cent of India's population lives in villages and the farmers constitute majority. When I went to Atalji and asked if the lending rates for the farmers could be brought down, he said that it could be done. Then Jaswant Singh was India's finance minister. We not only brought down lending rates but also gave farmers Kisan credit cards. Besides, we said one member of every farmer's family should be given a job so that there is an assured income in the family in case something goes wrong," he said.
"The United Progressive Alliance government's policies are anti-farmer. They have undone what the NDA government had done and the lending rates have once again gone up," he claimed.
In the economic resolution, the party charged the Manmohan Singh government with 'policy paralysis' and came out with a 16-point charter of demands to help people especially farmers, who were committing suicide in several states.
Vijay Kumar Malhotra while presenting the economic resolution said that budget allocation for various sectors had been drastically cut down. "The Indian economy had generated significant growth during the NDA regime under the leadership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The momentum of this growth and the favourable conditions of huge foreign exchange reserves and low interest rates have kept the growth in last one year. However, the policy paralysis of Dr Manmohan Singh and his team is leading to serious deterioration of economic fundamentals," he said.
He pleaded with the government to introduce pension reforms so that the country is not faced with an insurmountable financial crisis in the next decade. He also asked the government to ensure that small traders are not affected and employment is protected.
He singled out the sports sector for special mention. "Our government had announced that we would give Rs 20 lakh (Rs 2 million) to the athlete who wins a gold medal in an international event, but this government has brought it down to Rs 6 lakh (Rs 600,000)," he said.
Initiating discussion on the resolution and seconding it, senior party leaders including Vijay Kumar Malhotra and Murli Manohar Joshi launched a scathing attack on the economic performance of the United Progressive Alliance government and opposed its several moves, including entry to foreign direct investment in the retail sector.
"We witness every day the pathetic spectacle of a helpless prime minister giving lectures on good economics, but meekly surrendering to the backseat driving of Communists," the resolution said, adding that the Communist parties continue to dictate economic policies.