PROMISES FREE ELECTRICITY TO FARMERS, 10 LAKH JOBS, LPG CYLINDER AT RS 500
Kicking off his party’s campaign in Gujarat, where Assembly elections are slated in three months, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday promised free electricity to farmers, creation of 10 lakh new jobs and LPG cylinder at Rs 500 if his party is voted to power in the state.
Announcing a series of freebies, Gandhi also promised to supply up to 300 units of free power to general consumers, build 3,000 English medium schools and provide free education for girls.
Gandhi’s poll promises came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said ‘Revadi’ culture (freebies) is dangerous for the country, and Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s recent promise of Rs 1,000 per month to women and round-the-clock power supply ahead of Gujarat elections. Addressing the Congress’s booth-level workers at the ‘Parivartan Sankalp Rally’ at the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad, Gandhi also promised a subsidy of Rs 5 per litre to milk producers.
He accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat of insulting the legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who he said was the voice of farmers in the country.
Gandhi said the Congress will focus on generating employment in the BJP-ruled Gujarat and will provide jobs to 10 lakh youth.
Targeting the ruling BJP, he said it built the world’s tallest statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Gujarat, while on the other hand, it insulted him by working against those for whom Patel lived and died.
“The BJP government here will waive loans of top industrialists, but have you ever heard that they waived loans of farmers? I promise to waive loans of up to Rs 3 lakh of each farmer after we come to power in Gujarat.”
Gandhi said that Congress will grant a loan waiver to farmers as it had done in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Karnataka. “Wherever we came to power, we said our first job will be to do what Sardar Patel would have done. Here too, we will waive the loan of (up to) Rs 3 lakh (of farmers),” he said.
“We will open 3,000 English medium schools and provide free education to girls. Thousands of schools were shut down by the BJP government. They built the statue of Sardar Patel and on the other hand, shut down thousands of schools,” the former Congress president said.
The Congress leader said the biggest thing he wanted to do is to end unemployment and inflation.
“The truth is that 2 to 3 billionaires cannot provide jobs. Jobs are provided by small businesses and farmers. Until there is a government of farmers and small and medium businessmen, jobs cannot be created in this state. The Congress’ focus will be on providing jobs to youth and our government will provide jobs to 10 lakh youths,” he said.
Attacking the BJP, Gandhi said, “For whom did Sardar Patel fight for and why? Sardar Patel was not just a human being. You built the statue of his body, but he was not just a human, he was the voice of the farmers of Gujarat and India. Whatever he said was for the benefit of the farmers of Gujarat and India”. He said the three Central agricultural laws — which were later repealed by the Narendra Modi government — were meant to take away the rights of the farmers.
“Farmers from across the country came out on roads, and the BJP says it fights for the rights of farmers. On one hand, they built the tallest statue of Sardar Patel, and on the other hand, they attacked all those for whom Sardar Patel fought and sacrificed his entire life. What is the meaning of the statue?” he wondered. Gandhi alleged the BJP in Gujarat has captured all the institutions, and the fight here is not between two political parties but with every institution which has been captured by the ruling party.
“But in Gujarat, the institutions for which the plinth was laid by Sardar Patel, whether it is the police, media, judiciary, or Assembly, the BJP has captured and controlled all these institutions. It means here you do not fight against a political party, but against every institution of Gujarat state,” he said.
He also attacked the Gujarat government over its policy to seek permission for holding protests and said it was steeped in corruption.
“You have to take permission from those against whom you have to protest. ..Did Sardar Patel ask for the permission of the British for protest? Sardar Patel would have said that throw out the government which asks the people of Gujarat to seek its permission to protest. This is the truth. You are not fighting against a political party but an ideology against whom Sardar Patel fought,” he said.
Slamming the state government over the recent seizure of large amounts of drugs, especially from the Mundra port, Gandhi said the “Gujarat model” meant the rule of 3-4 industrialists.
“The government will give these industrialists as much land as they want within two minutes. But when the poor and tribals request for a little portion of land with folded hands, they will never get it,” he said.