The Congress Sunday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi after he launched a money-transfer scheme for small and marginal farmers, alleging he needs a “face-saver” before the general election as he did not do anything for them during his rule. Party spokesperson Pawan Khera said the government is now remembering farmers as Congress president Rahul Gandhi keeps reminding it about them and that the states ruled by the opposition party have taken measures to benefit peasants.
Earlier Sunday, Modi launched the ambitious Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme from Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, transferring the first instalment of Rs 2,000 each to over one crore farmers. The farmers will be given Rs 6,000 in three installments per year.
“He (Modi) needs a face-saver. This (scheme) is nothing more than that,” Khera said at a press conference and claimed that such pre-poll measures do not work as they did not benefit the Congress as well before the last Lok Sabha election. He also questioned Modi’s “silence” on the hooch tragedy in Assam, where 124 people died, and violence in Arunachal Pradesh to protest permanent resident certificates to six communities. The BJP is in power in both the states.
In a broad swipe at Modi, Khera said, “He keeps travelling from morning to evening, changing clothes three-four times. But the work for which he was elected he does not do, nor does (BJP) chief ministers do. Why are you silent on such tragedies?” “This government is missing in action… We condemn his silence and incompetence,” he added.
The Congress leader also attacked the prime minister for taking nine days after the Pulwama attack to speak against harassment and violence targeting Kashmiris in different parts of the country.
Modi did not appeal for peace all these days and allowed people’s anger following the tragedy to be vented at Kashmiris, he claimed, wondering if the prime minister was silent because it suited him. He accused Modi of paying a “lip-service” while polarisation takes roots and referred to his alleged silence following incidents of lynching in the past. “Is it a design that you will speak when it suits you and not when it suits the country,” Khera asked.
At a public meeting in Rajasthan Saturday, Modi had spoken against targeting of Kashmiris and said it is every citizen’s duty to protect them. To a questioning about Modi sounding confident in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio address about returning to power after the general election, Khera said it is for voters to decide who returns to power and mocked the prime minister for issuing a “threat” of starting the monthly broadcast again.
The prime minister never talks about his work, he alleged, adding that it was former prime minister Manmohan Singh who worked without doing any talking. With BJP president Amit Shah addressing a public meeting in Jammu, Khera alleged the BJP government did “nothing to fulfil its promises” on rehabilitating Kashmiri pandits and abrogating Article 370 but the saffron party has started doing politics on these issues again. He rejected BJP’s charge that the opposition party was politicising the Pulwama terrorist attack, saying the Congress is “proud” to raise issues of national importance and giving voice to people’s anger.
Should the Congress do politics on “photo shoots” and “wearing new clothes”, he said, taking a dig at Modi.
While the Congress stood with the Centre after the Pulwama attack, the government appeared to be standing with a Pakistani parliamentarian, he said, referring to the visit of Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a Hindu lawmaker from the neighbouring country, to India. The last rites of the CRPF troops killed in the Pulwama attack are not over it but the government was busy giving a “red-carpet welcome” to a Pakistani MP, he alleged.