THE BJP on Thursday targeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who led a party delegation to President Ram Nath Kovind against the Centre’s farm laws, calling him “perpetually young, frustrated and agitated”. While Union minister Prakash Javadekar challenged Gandhi to a debate, BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said no government had done more for farmers than the BJP.
Javadekar said that the Congress had ignored farmers interests and kept them poor, while the Modi government implemented clauses of the Swaminathan Commission. He said that on Friday, nine crore farmers will receive Rs 18,000 crore, taking money credited to accounts to Rs 1.2 lakh crore. “This is merely the beginning. It will continue for 10 years and the total scheme is of Rs 7 lakh crore,” he said.
The BJP pointed to old speeches of Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh where they are seen to be arguing for reforms, and against middlemen in agriculture, accusing the Congress of changing stance.
“I challenge the Congress and Rahul Gandhi for an open debate. I will prove how the Congress always ignored farmers’ interests and how Modi empowered them. Farmers always demanded remunerative price for their produce but the Congress never did so,” Javadekar said.
On Gandhi’s demand for a Parliament session where the laws should be repealed, the minister said: “When Parliament is in session, Congress members obstruct and do not take part in a debate.”
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar pointed to the Congress 2019 election manifesto where he said the Congress had promised the end of APMC, ensuring trade without mandi tax and promotion of contract farming. “Now I want to ask Rahul Gandhi if he lied in 2019 or is lying now. On this, the Congress has to come clear,” Tomar said.
At a briefing at the BJP headquarters, party spokesperson Trivedi called Gandhi “perpetually young, disenchanted, agitated and frustrated”. He said Gandhi is the MP of Wayanad in Kerala, and that there is no APMC Act in that state. “Why has he not protested there? It cannot be that something that is good in Kerala is bad in Delhi,” Trivedi said.
He said major private players such as Nestle and PepsiCo had been in Punjab for many years and asked Gandhi if they had benefitted the state. He said: “If they caused a loss then what has Rahul Gandhi done about it? If they have benefitted then why is the Congress preventing those benefits to other places?”
Attacking Gandhi for his comments that India was an “imaginary democracy” and that those protesting the BJP were being labelled anti-national, Trivedi said, “Rahul Gandhi pretends to be a well-wisher of farmers. I want to bring to his attention that it was the anniversary of the country’s tallest farmer leader and former Prime Minister Choudhary Charan Singh and tomorrow is the birth anniversary of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Did the Congress not charge both of them with sedition? Did they both not go to jail?”