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BJP using farm loan waiver as political tool: Pilot

Published On : 10 Jun 2017   |  Reported By : Courtesy: The Hindu   |  Pic On: photo credit: The Hindu

Mumbai (The Hindu): Senior Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Friday claimed the BJP-led Central government was using farmers as vote banks and farm loan waiver as a political tool. He also questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘silence’ on the farmers’ protest since June 1.

“Unarmed and innocent farmers are being brutally killed in Madhya Pradesh by a stubborn BJP government. They should have understood that if they (BJP) announce a ?36,000-crore loan waiver only for Uttar Pradesh, there would be similar demands from other States as well,” he said.

Five farmers were killed and six were injured in police firing at Mandsaur in the State on Tuesday. Farmers across the country, including in Maharashtra, have been agitating since June 1, demanding loan waivers and a better price for the produce.

“Under this government, the farm loan waiver has been used as a political tool. Why did you announce this before the Lok Sabha polls if you couldn’t do it? Why did the BJP promise to offer incentives that would be twice the input cost? Farmers have only been used as vote banks to grab power,” Mr. Pilot, who who heads the party’s Rajasthan State committee, said. “Loan waivers alone won’t solve farmers’ problems; there is a need for a complete change in agricultural policy.”

Mr. Pilot said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s intention was to meet farmers’ families in Mandsaur, and not to make a political statement. Mr. Gandhi was detained by Madhya Pradesh Police when he tried to visit Mandsaur on Tuesday. “We went there as fellow human beings. There was no terrorist attack there, nor was there a natural calamity. Still, Section 144 (prohibitory orders) was imposed. How can there be a dialogue when police and paramilitary forces are using brutality to silence farmers?”

He said the BJP’s allegation that the Congress was inciting farmers to protest was irresponsible. “When we were in power, you [the BJP] blamed us. Now we are in Opposition, you still blame us? How insensitive and irresponsible is this? It is your government, your police and your administration. How are we to be blamed?”

Mr. Pilot claimed that the Congress alone can take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, along with other Opposition parties. “There is a coalition of Opposition parties happening now as everybody is realising the need to work together against the BJP to present a formidable opposition in the next general elections.” He also criticised the Central government for spending over ?2,200 crore on advertising.

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