Congress will provide MSP to farmers 'legally'; caste census to be first task of I.N.D.I.A. bloc govt: Rahul Gandhi

Farmer organisations in Punjab and Haryana are currently agitating for legally guaranteed MSP for crops.
Last Updated 02 March 2024, 16:09 IST

Bhopal: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said the party's manifesto includes the promise to provide Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers legally if it came to power, and accused the BJP-led Union government of ignoring farmers' interests while working for big industrialists.

Speaking in Morena after his 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra' entered Madhya Pradesh from Rajasthan, he also reiterated the demand for caste census and claimed that 73 per cent of the country's population has no presence in most sectors of the economy as well as in the top levels of bureaucracy.

He later addressed a gathering in Gwalior where he said conducting a caste-based census will be the first task the I.N.D.I.A. bloc government will undertake after coming to power at the Centre.

He also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the caste issue.

Gandhi said his second yatra commenced from Manipur because 'the BJP's ideology has set that state on fire where people are killing each other whereas Congress is averse to hatred'.

The BJP government at the Centre has waived loans of Rs 16 lakh crore of ten to fifteen industrialists but it is denying (legally guaranteed) MSP to farmers, Gandhi alleged in Morena.

Farmer organisations in Punjab and Haryana are currently agitating for legally guaranteed MSP for crops.

"We have written in the manifesto, as soon as a Congress government comes to power in Delhi, we will give legal MSP to the farmers of the country," Gandhi said.

Farmers are only asking for MSP and the right price for their produce and hard work, but when crops get ready for harvest, the Union government changes its import-export policy to bring down the prices of agricultural commodities, he alleged.

"This change forces farmers to sell their produce at a lower price and then the government again increases rates (by changing the policy)," Gandhi said.

Gandhi said 22 rich people in the country own wealth equal to that owned by half the population, and five per cent of the rich population has 60 per cent of the money.

The level of unemployment is at the highest level in 40 years, Gandhi claimed, adding that unemployment in the country is double that of Pakistan and Bangladesh.

He alleged the Modi government's decision to implement Goods and Services Tax and demonetisation led to an increase in unemployment as these measures badly hit the economy, especially small and medium businesses which employ the youth.

Naming the Adani group, Gandhi alleged that in every sector, five to six big companies enjoy a monopoly.

None of the people from OBC, Dalit, and tribal communities are found among the owners of big companies, their senior managements, media firms, influential journalists and social media influencers, Gandhi claimed.

Of the 90 top IAS officers 'who run the government', only three each are from OBC and Dalit communities, and 'they are made to sit in the corner when the budget is decided,' he claimed.

The caste census is a revolutionary step and will ensure justice and equal participation for these communities in various sectors, the Congress leader said.

It will provide answers to two questions, namely, what is the population of the OBCs, Dalits, and tribals, and how wealth is distributed among them and what is their share in various institutions, Gandhi said.

Before the Modi government rolled out the Agniveer system of recruitment for the defence forces, there was only 'one type of martyrs' and ex-servicemen got pensions, canteen facilities and respect in society, he said.

"Now, there are two types of martyrs....If one is recruited under the Agniveer scheme, the jawan will not get the status of martyr and not get the pension. Three out of four ex-servicemen will not get pension, canteen facilities and respect in their villages," Gandhi said.

He said the Agniveer scheme is implemented to provide money to big industrialists, and the government wanted the defence budget to not go towards the pension and training of the jawans but to the bank accounts of industrialists.

Arms and ammunition for the Army were earlier manufactured in government-owned ordnance factories and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited manufactured military aircraft, but now the HAL has been sidelined and "Adani will manufacture planes, arms and ammunition," the Congress leader claimed.

Addressing a gathering in Gwalior, Gandhi said, "If we form a government in the Centre, the first thing we will do is to conduct a caste-based census".

He alleged PM Modi used to call himself a member of Other Backward Community but 'when I raised the demand for caste-based census, he is saying there is no caste'.

"Last time we took out a yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir that also passed through MP. However, at that time some states couldn't be covered, so this time we took out the yatra from Manipur to Maharashtra," Gandhi added.

Before addressing the gathering, Gandhi led a road show in the Gwalior assembly constituency.

After a night halt, the Yatra will resume its onward journey at 8.30 am on Sunday and reach Morkheda area where Gandhi will interact with tribals. The Yatra will reach Shivpuri on Sunday afternoon.

In the morning, the Yatra resumed from Dholpur in Rajasthan after a five-day break.

(Published 02 March 2024, 16:09 IST)

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