Rahul accuses Modi of snatching poor man's land

Wednesday 22nd April 2015 06:06 EDT

After coming back from his sabbatical, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Sunday accused the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being anti-poor and anti-farmer. Giving enough indications that the fight against the Land Acquisition Ordinance and the proposed Bill will be aggressive and long drawn, Rahul tore into Modi's claims accusing him of working for the welfare of big industrialists and the rich.

Assuring a massive gathering of farmers at Ramlila Maidan that he would stand by their side, Rahul said, “Modi took huge amounts of loans from industrialists for elections. How will he repay the debt? By giving them your land... Modi told industrialists how easily he snatched farmers' land in Gujarat and said if they made him the PM, he would do the same in the entire country.”

Vowing to fight for farmers and for their cause, Rahul listed the schemes and various initiatives taken by the previous Congress led-UPA government. "Congress will fight your battle and we will win. I will always stand along with you," Rahul assured farmers.

Enumerating the various measures taken by the UPA, Rahul said, "When UPA was in power, it helped farmers in every possible way. UPA introduced schemes to save debt-ridden farmers. We increased the MSP of wheat from Rs 540 to Rs 1,400. The UPA government waived Rs 700 billion of loans taken by farmers."

Questioning the BJP government on taking the Ordinance route on land acquisition, Rahul asked, "We fought for your rights. It took us 2 years to make this Land Bill of 2013, the BJP supported and applauded the Bill then. Then what changed? Instead of passing it through Parliament, why did BJP bring in an Ordinance?"

Picking out the loopholes in the new Land Bill, Rahul said farmers won't get jobs in exchange of their land. "BJP has finished the provisions of consent clause, social assessment and return of unused land. The government will snatch your land, and you won't even get jobs. We don't want our farmers to become labourers and servants. You should understand one thing, the land is yours, you treat it as your 'Maa', the price of it will increase more than gold in coming years."

'Suit-boot ki sarkar'

Continuing his Ramlila Maidan offensive into parliament, Rahul dubbed Modi regime as a “suit-boot” government, a reference to PM's monogrammed suit. Participating in a debate on agrarian crisis in Lok Sabha, Rahul alleged the BJP government has frozen minimum support price for crops and squeezed the agricultural credit flow. He also accused it of not helping farmers hit by unseasonal rains and of diluting the land acquisition law to weaken farmers.

The 20-minute intervention was part of the script to launch Rahul as a serious politician yet again and he, for a man who has made only five speeches in his 11- year-long parliamentary innings, seemed ready to play the part assigned to him. He began and carried through amid catcalls from ruling benches about his two-month sabbatical. Rahul appeared to have anticipated the jibes at his sabbatical earlier and he, smiling, urged the treasury benches to let him.

His speech was crafty, with Rahul seeking to stay on the message on Modi as “pro-corporate” and “anti-farmer.” In the process, Rahul did appear to go over the top, accusing the Modi government of seeking to finish off agriculture so that the entire farm land could be passed on to industrialists.

In painting the farmers' dismal state, he referred to “achche din government,” a jibe at Modi campaign's catchline; and sarcastically called the Centre a regime of powerful people -“suit boot government.” Moreover, he repeatedly addressed the BJP benches by referring to Modi as “your PM,” drawing strong response from rivals that he was “India's PM.” Raising the rhetoric, Rahul wondered how a man with sound “political calculations” was ignoring and antagonizing 67% people engaged in farming.

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