Sindhanur( DHNS): Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday went all out to woo Karnataka farmers even as he launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to tackle India's agrarian distress.
As part of the Janaarshivada Yatra, Rahul interacted with farmers and gave a patient hearing to their questions that were asked in Kannada, Hindi and English.
"Farmers are not getting the right price for their crops because the BJP has stopped protecting you," Rahul told the audience. "Congress considers farmers India's backbone. If we come to power in Delhi, we will establish a revolving fund to help farmers in distress, provide the right minimum support price and waive farm loans," he said.
Reviving his 'suit-boot ki sarkar' jibe, Rahul said the NDA government had last year written off loans of "India's richest" worth â‚¹1.30 lakh crore. "I went inside Modi's office only once to ask if he will waive farmers' loans. He didn't answer. The Centre will write off the loans of top ten capitalists within minutes, but not farmers' loans," he said, adding that Congress-ruled Karnataka and Punjab had waived farm loans. "Neeyat (intent) is most important in politics. And the Siddaramaiah government's intent is right."
He said the Congress was fighting the 10-15 capitalists that he said the BJP is working for. "That's the BJP agenda: Farmers, small businesses and labourers should work and capitalists should simply enjoy," he said.
Farmers grilled Rahul and Siddaramaiah with specific questions on the problems they faced, including reduced storage capacity of the Tungabhadra dam and increasing power supply for farmers. Siddaramaiah said the government is exploring an alternative to augment Tungabhadra dam, while promising farmers that the government will look at how power supply can be increased by a couple of hours from the existing 7-hours per day.
A woman farmer demanded a ban on sale of alcohol. "If our husbands stop drinking, they won't raise loans," she said. Rahul found the demand was a justified one and that people of Karnataka should discuss it. Alcohol prohibition was easier said than done, he added. "In Bihar, there is prohibition but it enters the state illegally from nearby states." Rahul warned that drugs could replace alcohol as it happened overseas.
Siddaramaiah categorically said that Karnataka alone banning alcohol will not work. "There's need for a national policy and all states have to be on the same page," he said. "Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu tried, but went back. The prohibition isn't total in Gujarat also," he said. He quipped that after arrack was banned, drinkers had moved to whiskey.
Box - Dalit activists detained
Rahul and Siddaramaiah were shown black flags in Gangavathi by Dalit activists demanding implementation of the Sadashiva Commission report on internal reservation. The police rushed to detain them.
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