Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign and accused the government of giving “thousands and thousands of crores” to industrialists but not farmers.
Addressing several election rallies in western and southern parts of Tamil Nadu, Rahul asked why not a single financial defaulter is in jail, and alleged that Modi is running the government for 15 or so friends. “You know the names,” he added.
The Congress leader reminded people about his party’s position regarding NEET, the medical entrance test that has faced protests, and said the state government will be able to opt out if the party comes to power.
In Salem, traditionally an AIADMK stronghold, Rahul recalled S Anitha, the “brilliant young girl who committed” suicide in 2016 after failing to secure a medical seat through NEET. Reminding people that the Congress manifesto respects the opposition NEET faces in Tamil Nadu, he said: “There is a small line in our manifesto. It says it will be up to the state to decide whether it wants to accept NEET. We don’t want any more Anithas in Tamil Nadu. We don’t want young girls to commit suicide due to an examination. So we gave the people of Tamil Nadu a choice. You are wise people, you decide if you want or do not want NEET.”
Earlier in the morning, at a rally in Krishnagiri, where the Congress is engaged in a tough battle with the AIADMK, Rahul said defaulters such as Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya took bank loans, and then fled after having failed to repay those loans.
If a Congress-led government is formed at the Centre, Rahul said, no farmer will be imprisoned “for not paying back his bank loan. It is not fair that the richest people do not go to jail but farmers go to jail for the same offence.”
Speaking on the Congress’s minimum income support scheme promise, Rahul said it will improve people’s purchasing power, which in turn will propel factories and the overall economy. He said it will revive the textile and silk hubs of Tamil Nadu — Tirupur and Kancheepuram — with more employment opportunities.
“When the Congress comes to power, we will identify 20 per cent of the country’s poorest families…every family will be given Rs 72,000 every year, which is Rs 3.60 lakh (per family) in five years.”
Rahul also said that the Congress party and its allies will never allow the people of Tamil Nadu to be ruled by Nagpur (a reference to the RSS headquarters). “Tamil Nadu is going to be ruled from Tamil Nadu, and (DMK chief M K) Stalin is going to be the (next) Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu,” he asserted.
Maintaining that Modi’s “Make in India” slogan has failed, the Congress chief said in Salem: “Look at your phone, made in China. Look at your shoes, shirt — all made in China. In Narendra Modi’s Make in India, if a young entrepreneur from Tamil Nadu has to start a business, he/she has to go to different government offices. In every office, he/she has to pay a bribe. By the time he/she has got permissions, the business is already failed. So we have a new idea in our manifesto for entrepreneurs: when you want to start a business, you don’t have to take permission from a government office for three years. You start it, get it going, and three years later you ask for permission.”
In Theni, where former state Congress chief E V K S Elangovan is contesting against AIADMK’s O P Raveendranath, son of Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, and AMMK’s influential candidate Thanga Tamilselvan, Rahul repeated his NEET promise at a massive public rally.
Reminding that the Congress is committed to give Rs 72,000 to 20 per cent of the poorest families each year, Rahul said he, however, will not promise to give Rs 15 lakh. “If we give Rs 15 lakh to (all the) people, it will destroy Indian economy. But we can give Rs 3.6 lakh (to poorest 20 per cent) in five years,” he said.