Addressing the country’s distressed farmers directly from outside Parliament, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said he will not let Prime Minister Narendra Modi sleep until all farm loans are waived.
In a stinging attack on what he described as crony capitalism, Gandhi said the government has turned a blind eye to the loans given to 15 top industrialists of the country, including Reliance’s Anil Ambani, but made no effort to alleviate the woes of the farmers in the last four years.
“We promised to waive loans in 10 days. In two states, we did it within six hours and we would do it in the third state very soon,” he told reporters outside Parliament.
He was referring to the Congress’s newly-formed governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh fulfilling promises made ahead of the assembly polls and waiving loans on Monday. A Congress government, led by Ashok Gehlot, was also sworn-in in Rajasthan.
Gandhi said the recent win of the Congress in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh is the victory of the poor, the farmers, the youth, labour and small shopkeepers.
“Modi ji has been prime minister for 4.5 years, but has not waived a single rupee of farmers’ loans. I want to tell you that the Congress party and other opposition parties will unite till all farm loans are waived. We will stand up and fight against them, we will not retract a single inch, we will not let him (PM) sleep at night, till the time Indian farmers’ loans are waived.
“I want to give this message and tell the farmers that this country is yours and not of 15-20 industrialists. That injustice being done to you, despite the hard work and toil that help provide food to the country. Your voice does not reach and we will help do it. We have done it in three states and you remember that we will exert pressure on Narendra Modi to waive farm loans,” he said.
WATCH: 'This is a victory of the poor, the farmers, the youth, labour and small shopkeepers'
Issuing a challenge to the prime minister, Gandhi said, “If the Modi government does not waive farm loans, we guarantee to waive farm loans if voted to power in 2019.”
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 the farmers.
He also claimed that the loans of friends of Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah had been waived.
Alleging that Rs 3.5 lakh crore was waived for 15 people, including for Anil Ambani, he said poor people and small shopkeepers were on one side and the group of industrialists on the other.
He assured the people that the Congress and all other opposition parties would stand by them.
Terming demonetisation “the world’s biggest scam”, Gandhi said the government has stolen from the public, shopkeepers and farmers.
“There will be many more typos coming now,” he said when asked about government’s claim on the “typo” in the affidavit given to the Supreme Court on the Rafale issue.
The government claimed in its affidavit that the Rafale pricing issue has been looked into by the CAG whose report has been discussed in Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.
“A number of typo errors will come out now. This is just a beginning of type errors, now one after the other type errors will come, on JPC issue, on Rafale issue, on farmers, on demonetisation, you will start seeing type errors.
“Basically, what is happening is that money of people of India is being stolen, of farmers, of small shopkeepers. I consider demonetisation as the biggest scam of the world. The purpose of note ban was to snatch money of the poor and give to the friends of Narendra Modi....,” Gandhi claimed.
Raising the issue of alleged corruption in the Rafale fighter jet deal, he accused the BJP of running away from a debate in Parliament.
“We will force a JPC on the Rafale issue. Why are they (government and BJP) running away from a debate in Parliament,” he said.
Gandhi, however, skirted a question on Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and the apology demanded by the BJP from him after he was convicted by the Delhi High Court a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.
“My position on the riots, I have made it very clear before. That is absolutely clear, the issue is very simple. This press conference is about farmers of this country and the fact is Mr Narendra Modi refuses to waive one rupee of their loan and is ready to give Rs 45,000 crore to an industrialist through corruption,” he said.
He also did not answer a question on Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s statement about workers from Bihar and said he will ascertain the facts before speaking on it.
“I will discuss this. I am not aware of this issue. I have just been told about this and I will reply to you after studying it,” he said.
Nath was quoted as saying that workers from Madhya Pradesh were being denied jobs and many industries offered employment to workers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.