Referring to the Congress as a “lollipop company”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday accused the party of “cheating” farmers in the name of farm loan waivers, and said that in the few days since it came to power in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, a shortage of fertilisers and urea had arisen in the two states.
Addressing a rally here in eastern Uttar Pradesh, Modi said, “What happens to attractive solutions offered just to get votes is visible in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. As soon as the government changed, long queues can be seen for fertilisers and urea. Public is lathicharged, while those involved in black-marketing have surfaced.”
He said that even in Karnataka, where the Congress had formed a government through the “backdoor”, farmers have been cheated, and that against the promise to waive off loans of lakhs of farmers, only 800 farmers had benefited. “Lollipop pakda diya gaya vote churane ke liye (They handed a lollipop to steal votes),” Modi said, adding that police had been set after those whose loans were not waived off, for loan recovery.
People should stay alert against the Congress’s “jhooth aur beimaani (lies and dishonesty)” the next time it dangled a “lollipop”, he added. “Promises which are made for immediate political gains cannot solve the problems of the country,” said the PM. “Yeh kisanon ke sath kaisa dhokha ho raha hai, aap ise samajhiye (Understand how the farmers are being betrayed).”
He asked the crowd if their loans had been waived off in 2009, as promised by the Congress government at the Centre then. Modi claimed that against the requirement of loan waivers worth Rs 6 lakh crore, only Rs 7,000 crore-worth loans had been waived off, and that even among that, many beneficiaries did not receive the money. “Aise logon pe bharosa karoge kya? Yeh lollipop company pe bharosa karoge kya? Yeh jhooth bolne walon pe bharosa karoge kya (Would you trust such people? Would you trust such lollipop company? Would you trust such liars)?”
Modi also accused the Congress of sitting on the M S Swaminathan Committee recommendations during its regime, adding that it was the NDA government that had implemented the same in fixing the minimum support price.
Fertilisers now enter poll race
With Lok Sabha elections drawing closer, BJP and Congress are jousting to project themselves as champions of farmers’ interests. With the Congress wielding farm loan waivers as its ace, BJP needs a trump card too. While implementation of the loan waivers will take some time, the issue of shortage of fertilisers has the potential to create doubts in farmers’ minds — never mind that channelising fertiliers to farmers is a collaborative effort between Centre, states, cooperatives and private agencies.
Modi was addressing a rally in the home district of Om Prakash Rajbhar, the president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), a BJP ally. A minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, Rajbhar has been sulking over seat sharing for the coming polls, and skipped the rally.
While making no mention of the SBSP, Modi directed his speech at the Rajbhar community, which wields considerable influence in the region, invoking its icon Raja Suheldev as a long-forgotten king who had fought and won against “foreign invaders”, constructed parks, roads as well as temples. He announced a memorial in his name to be constructed by the state government in Bahraich district. The PM also launched a postal stamp in Suheldev’s name, while accusing previous governments of ignoring heroes of the country such as him.
In his speech, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath too said Suheldev had never got the recognition he deserved. “Maharaja Suheldev defeated Salar Masud Ghazi and his entire army.”
Laying the foundation stone for a medical college in Ghazipur, and promising to turn Purvanchal into a “medical hub”, Modi listed the Central and state government projects for development of the region, including a cargo hub, the Purvanchal Expressway, and better rail connectivity. Going back to attacking the Congress, the PM took on the party’s taunts of “Chowkidaar Chor Hai” for him, saying, “Aanewala samaye mein aapke bhavishya ko sanvarne ke liye aapka yeh chowkidaar bahut imaandari se, bahut lagan ke saath, din raat ek kar raha hai. Aap apna vishwas isi tarah banaye rakhiye (To improve your future, this chowkidaar of yours has been working day and night, with honesty and dedication. Retain your faith in him).”
Modi added, “Because of this chowkidaar, thieves are unable to sleep at night. One day will come when he will send these thieves to their right place.”
Later in the day, the PM went to his constituency Varanasi, where he inaugurated several projects and dedicated the regional centre of the International Rice Research Institute to the nation.