Mumbai: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday promised to write off loans taken by farmers in Madhya Pradesh “within ten days" if his party was voted to power in the upcoming state assembly election.
Addressing a farmers’ rally at Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh on the first anniversary of the death of six farmers in police firing exactly a year ago, the Congress president also promised action against those who fired at farmers “within 10 days of coming to power."
Gandhi virtually kicked off his party’s campaign for the assembly elections expected in November, rolling out a host of promises to the farmers and youth. The Congress party is seeking a return to power in Madhya Pradesh after 15 years.
“Come what may, our government will waive off farm loans in Madhya Pradesh within 10 days of coming to power. I can guarantee you that it won’t take an eleventh day," he said.
A farmers’ protest in Mandsaur last year turned violent on 5 June and six farmers were killed in the police firing the next day near Mandsaur’s Pipaliya agriculture produce market yard. Among other things, the farmers were demanding a complete loan waiver and higher remunerative prices for farm produce. Though the Congress president promised a loan waiver, he did not get into specific details about the size of this sop, the number of farmers it would benefit, and eligibility criteria.
Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan of betraying the farmers and the youth, Gandhi said a Congress government would establish a food chain across the state to provide employment for local youth.
“We will set up food processing units right next to the farms in each district of Madhya Pradesh. Currently, farmers in Madhya Pradesh get paid by cheque for their produce at mandis. They have to pay 15% commission to Shivraj Singh Chouhan to get the cheques encashed from the banks. We will stop this practice and make direct payment to the farmers right at the mandis," he said.
The Congress president said he imagined a scenario five to seven years later in Madhya Pradesh when the Congress would be in power and mobile phones would “made in Mandsaur" instead of “made in China". “Modi-Shivraj cannot do this. Kamal Nath-Scindia can," he said referring to the state Congress president Kamal Nath and campaign committee chief Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Gandhi said a Congress government would provide road connectivity to farms so that “farm produce is directly supplied to factories and farmers get paid directly." Congress party would ensure that garlic from Mandsaur is “consumed in Beijing" in 10 years, he said, referring to the local agricultural produce.