Congress president Raul Gandhi, on Wednesday, sought to revive the rich versus the poor narrative accusing the Narendra Modi government of helping the rich run away with crores of rupees and leaving the poor in a lurch.
Addressing a village chaupal at Nanded village in Chandrapur district of Vidarbha, Gandhi directly accused Prime Minister Modi of giving away Rs 35,000 crore to diamond trader Neerav Modi, which he said was equal to the amount spent by the UPA led by the Congress to provide employment to crores of people.
Rahul was addressing a sizeable crowd of people gathered for the meeting held on the occasion of his visit to the family of Dalit rice innovator late Dadaji Khobragade, who died on June 3 after a prolonged illness at the age of 79. Dadaji, studied only up to the fourth standard, was awarded for developing eight varieties of rice, the most famous and popular among them, the HMT. A winner of National Innovation Foundation award of the central institution and Krushi Bhushan Puraskar of the Maharashtra government, Dadaji had died in penury. The HMT variety, however, was allegedly appropriated by the State-run Punjabrao Krishi Vidyapeeth in 1998, when it released it under its own name PKV HMT, claiming that it had “purified and stabilised” it.
“Modiji had given away Rs 2.5 lakh crore to 15 top rich people in the country. We gave Rs 70,000 crore to country’s farmers by loan waiver in 2008. Against these Rs 2.5 lakh crore, how many jobs were created by this government,” Gandhi asked, in reply to a question on unemployment by Sagar Khobragade. “Would we only end up frying pakoras as this government advised?” Khobragade asked. “Yes, at least till 2019,” Gandhi quipped.
Dwelling on unemployment, he says, “If they would have given Rs 5 crore to Dadaji, who had won 108 awards for his great work, he would have created jobs for 5,000 people.” He added: “There are many such talented people around. If they are provided with funds, they would be able to create several companies, creating huge employment. ”
Gandhi followed it up by promising to set up one processing unit in each district of the country. “It will facilitate direct sale of farmers’ produce and these units will provide jobs to local youths too,” he said replying to question as to what he will do if Congress comes to power.
Saying that the PM calls Neerav Modi and Mehul Chauksey his “bhai”, Gandhi told farmers to ask the PM as to how many jobs his pet industrialists have created. “I am not saying don’t help the industrialists. But help the poor too,” he clarified.
He then went on to bring the rising fuel prices issue to push his rich vs poor line saying, “money is being pulled out of poor people’s pockets and it’s being paid to the rich.”
“I will not assure you that I will put Rs 15 lakh in your pockets, but we will definitely put money into farmers’ pockets, he added.
Referring to Gandhi’s loan waiver promise, a lady, Avisha Rokde, asked why not give good price so that question of loan waiver doesn’t arise at all, Gandhi said, “If farmers are in distress, waiver is the immediate step that needs to be taken. It gives relief to farmers. And if one person can be given Rs 35,000 crore, why can’t farmers be given a loan waiver?”
Other measures that he promised to take included creating infrastructure to facilitate seamless journey of farm produce from “farm to plate”, good roads, cold storage and banks.
He gave the Chinese model as an example, where industries are present in immediate neighborhood of farmers. “Our computation is with China,” he said.
Spelling out his government’s priorities on coming to power as “providing jobs, solving farmers’ problems, providing education to children and health to the aged”, he accused the PM of continually diverting attention from real issues. “As against that during the days of green revolution, the whole country was focused on becoming food secure,” he said, adding, “The PM, instead of showing a right path to the country and make country feel assured, keeps belting out one lie after the other. ”
Gandhi then punctuated his promises with caution: “The government can do many things but not everything. We will try our best to do many things.” Gandhi declared that he will continue to meet people like Dadaji over the next few months.
Gandhi earlier spent five minutes with the family of Dadaji – son Mitrajit, daughter-in-law Indira and grandsons Manish, Vijay and Deepak. “We felt both happy and sad. Happy because he came to meet us and sad because Dadaji wasn’t with us anymore,” Deepak said.
“Rahul Gandhi took a round of our house and also asked us how he did his research. He said he would do his best to help the family,” Deepak told The Indian Express.
Congress leader MLA Vijay Wadettiwar gave a cheque for Rs 2.5 lakh on behalf of State Congress to Mitrajit. The leader of the Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil also promised to give Rs 5 lakh to the family. Former Chandrapur MP Naresh Pugalia also gave a cheque for Rs 1 lakh.
Former MP Nana Patole, MKA Wadettiwar, State Congress chief Ashok Chavan, Manikrao Thakre, Congress general secretary Ashok Gehlot and Mohan Prakash were other prominent leaders present on the occasion