Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “spreading hatred and anger in the country” to put the real issues on the back-burner. Addressing his first “Mission 13” rally in Punjab’s Moga district, Gandhi accused Modi of “putting Rs 31,000 crore in the pockets of Anil Ambani” through the Rafale fighter aircraft deal and said that the PM “waived Rs 3.50-lakh crore of 15 industrialists” but could not “waive a single rupee of the poor farmers”.
Invoking Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh faith, Gandhi accused the BJP and Modi of attacking the Guru’s ideology and philosophy of peace, tolerance and brotherhood, by “spreading hatred within the country to cover up the real issues”.
“Guru Nanak Dev ji had shown the path of love and brotherhood. But today, the situation in the country is of hatred and anger…The way the BJP people and prime minister ji are spreading hatred in the country against which Guru Nanak Dev ji had spent his entire life. In a way, his (Guru Nanak) thoughts are being attacked,” Gandhi said.
The BJP, however, hit back at Gandhi for invoking Guru Nanak Dev with party national secretary Tarun Chugh saying that “it was his party (the Congress) that planned and led the killings of thousands of followers of the Guru in 1984”.
The Congress president, at the rally, said that the “PM is right when he says he has worked a lot” for the country in last five years. “Indeed, he has worked a lot, but only for the rich. The Chowkidaar is always at service of the rich and the mighty,” he said.
“In the last five years, Modi ji has waived Rs 3.50-lakh crore of 15 industrialists. You know the names of those big industrialists. But he (Modi) could not waive a single rupee of the farmer of this country,” Gandhi said.
He along with Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh also launched a debt waiver scheme, under the ongoing Karza Mafi scheme, for landless farmers and farm labourers in Punjab under which the state government aims to write off Rs 520 crore debt of 2.85 lakh families.
“The PM does not want to return Rs 31,000 crore belonging to the farmers, youth, poor, women in Punjab. Why he can’t do this despite requests of Capt Amarinder Singh? Because Punjab is not a BJP ruled state. But the same PM puts Rs 31,000 crore in the pocket of Anil Ambani in just five minutes,” he said.
He was referring to the Punjab government’s demand of resolving the food legacy debt of Rs 31,000 crore, which arose because of the mismatch between the cash credit availed for procuring wheat, paddy and foodgrain stocks in the account books of the state procurement agencies.
Gandhi accused Modi of benefiting his “industrialist friend” Anil Ambani by getting him a contract, a charge repeatedly denied by the Centre and the BJP. The Congress chief said that the Air Force protects the country. “IAF drops bombs in Pakistan. The IAF personnel get martyred for the country and you (Modi) take out money from their pockets and give it to Anil Ambani”.
Reiterating the slogan of ‘chowkidaar chor hai’ (watchman is a thief), Gandhi dared the prime minister to have a debate with him on the Rafale deal in front of the media, saying “everything will be clear” after it.
Hitting out at the PM for introducing “the ill-planned GST and demonetization”, he said that while Modi said it was a fight against black money, none of his industrialists friends were found standing outside banks in queues. It was only common man who was hit and the GDP of country had to suffer loss of at least 2 per cent.
“Modi is hell bent on creating two Indias – one for 15-20 rich industrialists where they will get everything they want and the other of small businessmen and shopkeepers who have been devastated because of his wrong policies… (Former prime minister) Manmohan Singh ji and and (former finance minister) P Chidambaram tried to make this government understand what catastrophe the ill-planned GST will bring but he did not listen to anyone,” Gandhi said, adding that if Congress comes to power in 2019, it will remove all ‘loopholes’ in the current GST and bring “kam se kam aur ek tax”.
Congress, he said, is waiving the debt of farmers in Punjab and other states. “Once we are elected in 2019, we will do this across country,” he added.
Gandhi also accused Modi of not taking action to catch the big sharks who deal in drugs. “When I raised the issue of drugs, the Akali Dal and the BJP had mocked me. It is our government in Punjab that has broken the back of drugs trade but despite having ED under him, Modi has done nothing to catch the big crocodiles who introduced and infused drugs in veins of youths of Punjab,” he added.
Later in the day, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) alleged that Gandhi’s claim that farm loans have been waived by his party’s government in Punjab was an attempt to deceive the people of the state.
In a statement here, former Punjab minister and senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia said, “The Congress government in Punjab has failed to implement its promised Rs 90,000 crore loan waiver scheme. It (the state government) has come out with a partial crop loan waiver scheme which has exacerbated the situation and led to more than 900 suicides.”