Farm budget if Congress comes to power: Rahul

In rallies in three RSS strongholds, Rahul seeks to rebuild farmer narrative.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi. (DH File Photo)

Campaigning for his aide Meenakshi Natarajan in the epicentre of farm distress two years back, Congress President Rahul Gandhi raked up the issue of Mandsaur police firing of 2017 in which six farmers were killed and sought to allay doubts over Congress' promise of loan waiver to farmers, which the BJP has made into a huge issue.
 
In Neemuch which is called the nursery of the RSS, Gandhi said that when the “police of Modi” fired on the farmers, the Prime Minister kept silent. He said that Congress will ensure that no farmer will go to jail after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections for not repaying farm loans.

“When farmers were shot dead, I came here at your invite. I had promised the loans of farmers will be waived and it was done. Modi Ji says farmers’ loans were not waived off but see the papers. Loans of kins of even Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s family were waived off,” he said. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath promised that loans of farmers up to Rs two lakhs will be waived off.
 
Natarajan had won the Mandsaur seat in 2009 after six consecutive victories for the BJP from the seat. Rahul Gandhi had addressed an election meeting even in 2009. Then there was a BJP government in the state. Now Congress is ruling the state. It remains to be seen whether Natarajan manages to wrest the seat from BJP’s Sudhir Gupta who had won the seat with a margin of over three lakh votes in 2014.
 
In the rally, Rahul described Natarajan as a “simple lady who never tells a lie.” Taking it further, he said in Khandwa, “I had promised that farm loans will be waived in 10 days. It happened in two days. The rest who have been left, their loans will also be waived off entirely after elections.”
 
Training his guns on former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who has repeatedly targeted the Congress government accusing it of failing to honour its promise of loan waiver, Gandhi asked Kamal Nath accompanying him to show the list of names of farmers, whose loans have been waived. 

Obliging Kamal Nath quickly took the names of the brother and nephew of Chouhan, whose loans have been waived off. He also told the farmers that before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he took their views and the farmers desired that there should be a separate budget for farmers. “I told them you are the owner. If you have given an order, we will definitely comply with it. So in 2019 two budgets will be passed—one farmer budget separately apart from the general budget," Gandhi said.  
 
Addressing a rally in Tarana in Ujjain a day after Priyanka Gandhi offered prayers at Mahakaleshwar temple there, Rahul accused Chouhan of “lying”  on farm loan waiver. I will show you clearly, look at these forms. Congress Party waived off farm loans of Shivraj Singh Chouhan's family members, but he is lying to Madhya Pradesh that farm loans were not waived off. In all the three seats, candidates just don’t matter for BJP which has made nationalism its main pitch and it is Modi versus Congress candidates, which is finding it difficult to beat the narrative. Both Rahul and her sister Priyanka have sought to reorient the narrative back to what they call "real issues" of jobs, farm distress and unemployment.

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