The Congress on Sunday lashed out at the NDA government, with Rahul Gandhi vowing he will fight for farmer interests even as he charged PM Narendra Modi with using the land Bill to pay back huge loans allegedly taken from the country’s corporates. At a rally in the Ramlila grounds, held to protest against the Bill, for which the NDA government has failed to muster adequate support, the vice-president of the Congress accused Modi of having won the elections by borrowing thousands of crores from big industrialists, adding that the loans would be repaid with land belonging to farmers. The BJP-led NDA government has been facing pressure from both opposition parties and farmers’ lobbies to remove clauses from the Bill that do not require consent and social impact assessment, and consequently facilitate purchase of land by companies.
Given that the rally took place on the eve of the second phase of the Budget session, the session could be a stormy one given the growing confrontation over the Bill.
Meanwhile, speaking to MPs, Modi asserted his government was working in the interests of farmers and that it was pro-poor, referring to the decision to compensate farmers who had suffered a loss of crops following unseasonal rains by lowering the level of damage from 50% to 33%.
Dwelling on measures his government had initiated for the benefit of farmers and the poor, Modi exhorted his party MPs to highlight these while making a contrast between his government and the previous ones on the similar lines as ‘black and white’ and ‘colour’ in the television world.
While talking about his efforts to curb corruption and leakage of public funds, he targeted former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, without naming him, for having said that ‘out of Re one, only 15 paise reaches the people’, and observed that “you do not have to only do analysis but treat the disease”.
In his hour-long speech at a meeting of party MPs, Modi said, “All decisions I am taking are for the welfare of the poor… We are working for the poor, not for being in news but because we cannot sleep peacefully if we don’t do it. We live for the poor. We are in public life not to enjoy the power but for the welfare of the poor.”
Congress party president, Sonia Gandhi accused the government of rubbing salt on the wounds of the farmers hit hard by unseasonal rains and hailstorm while former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the new land bill was nothing but an attempt to weaken the 2013 Act that was aimed at empowering the farmers.