Days after Congress announced farm loan waivers in three states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday accused the main Opposition party of misleading farmers on the issue of loans. Addressing ‘Jan Abhar Rally’ in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, Modi also stressed on the one rank one pension scheme, saying the then Congress government ‘fooled’ the soldiers.
“For the last 40 years, this country’s soldier was demanding the One Rank, One Pension scheme. The then government fooled our soldiers and kept only Rs 500 crore for it. When we came to power, I called for the file and officers were left stunned,” said the prime minister.
“We realised there was Rs 12,000 crore required for it. It’s difficult for the government to take out Rs 12,000 crore in one go so I called soldiers and asked them to give it in four-five instalments and they agreed. Today I am happy, we gave it in four instalments,” he added.
During his speech, the PM also lashed out at his opponents saying those who were in the habit of looting money were now afraid of the country’s ‘chowkidar’.
“Those who were in the habit of looting, they are now feeling afraid of the country’s ‘chowkidar’ and are now abusing him,” Modi said adding “this chowkidar is not prepared to spare thieves”.
Modi’s criticism of the Congress over loan waivers comes days after Rahul Gandhi said his party will not let Modi rest till the Centre writes off farm loans across the country. Loan waiver schemes have been announced by the recently elected Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
The prime minister said the Congress government that came to power in 2009 waived loans worth only Rs 60,000 crore after the party had “promised” to write off an amount of “Rs 6 lakh crore”. He said a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General had found that lakhs of people who were not even farmers benefitted from the then Congress government’s loan waiver scheme.
Modi further said the Congress had made similar promises of waiving farm loans before Assembly Elections in Punjab and Haryana but claimed the party failed to deliver. While farmers in Punjab got “nothing”, 800 farmers were given token amounts in Karnataka, he said, adding the Congress had “made a fool” of the people through its loan waiver promises.
The PM also praised the soldiers from the state, describing it as the land of brave army men who were ever ready to make the supreme sacrifice at the border. He further said that development projects worth Rs 26,000 crore were under way in various sectors in Himachal Pradesh.
Congratulating Jairam Thakur on completing one year as chief minister, Modi said, “Himachal Pradesh is like my home. I worked here for several years for the party’s organisational work.”
The prime minister also released a booklet on the achievements of the BJP government in the state. Later, he went through an exhibition put up by the state government to showcase the benefits of state and Centre-sponsored schemes.
The prime minister was welcomed by the chief minister, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, Kangra BJP MP Shanta Kumar and Union Health minister Jagat Prakash Nadda at the helipad in Dharamshala. Himachal Pradesh Governor Acharya Dev Vrat was also present.
-With ENS and PTI inputs