“If ₹3 lakh crore of the rich can be written off, then why not give such concessions to farmers and other poor sections of the society?” asks the Congress president
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday accused the ruling BJP of working for the interest of a few rich people and ignoring the farmers and other sections of the society.
He also raked up the multi-billion Rafale fighter jet deal with France to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr. Gandhi said his party will ensure implementation of the tribal rights bill if voted to power in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, which go to polls in November and December.
“If you want to help out the rich, do it… but also help the farmers and other poor sections of the society. If ₹3 lakh crore of the rich can be written off, then why not give such concessions to farmers and other poor sections of the society?” he asked.
Speaking at an event organised by a tribal organisation, Adivasi Ekta Parishad, in Morena, he said, “The tribal bill is not a gift, but right of the tribal people. The tribal people must have their rights over land, water and forests.”
The Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, is a key piece of forest legislation passed when the Congress-led UPA was in power at the Centre.
Also called the tribal bill, it concerns the rights of forest dwelling communities to land and other resources denied to them for decades due to colonial forest laws.
Mr. Gandhi charged the Modi government with diluting the consent clause in the Land Acquisition Bill and also weakening the Panchayati Raj institutions.
The Congress chief alleged that in the 2016 demonetisation exercise, black money became white, nobody went to jail and contrary to the BJP’s promise, no one received ₹15 lakh in their bank account.
He said before taking a decision, unlike the BJP, he thinks whether it will benefit the poor.
“If the decision will harm the interests of the poor, I never go ahead with its implementation. On the other hand, the BJP thinks whether its decisions will benefit the rich,” Mr. Gandhi said.
“The BJP goes ahead with the implementation only if the decision benefits the rich,” he added.
He further told the gathering that he always fulfils the promises he makes to the people.
“I am in politics since 2004 and you can check my speeches. Give me one example where I have made promises like depositing ₹15 lakh in your bank account,” he said.
“In Karnataka, I promised that if the Congress returns to power, farmers will get a loan waiver. Accordingly, the Chief Minister implemented the decision after the new government was formed,” the Congress chief said.
Mr. Gandhi said the BJP wanted to implement the rural employment guarantee scheme MNREGA and Right to Food policies of the UPA through bureaucracy, while the erstwhile dispensation had empowered panchayats and pradhans (village heads) to take decisions regarding them.
“The bureaucracy doesn’t want these schemes, so their budgetary allocations have been reduced,” he alleged.
He also targeted the Modi government for letting liquor baron Vijay Mallya and diamantaire Nirav Modi flee the country with public money.
“Nirav Modi robbed your money from the banks to the tune of ₹35,000 crore and fled the country. Similarly, Vijay Mallya took away ₹10,000 crore from the banks and informed [Finance Minister Arun Jaitley] before leaving the country,” Mr. Gandhi said.
“So far, no action is being taken in these two cases,” he alleged.
Mr. Mallya is facing charges of money laundering and defaulting on loan payments, while Nirav Modi is an accused in the over $2 billion PNB fraud case — the country’s biggest financial scam.
Reiterating his allegations about the Rafale fighter jet deal, Mr. Gandhi said Mr. Modi cancelled the contract that the UPA had signed with France and inked a new deal to buy the aircraft at a much higher price.
The Prime Minister gave the (offset) contract to his “friend” Anil Ambani instead of the state-run company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), he alleged.
The BJP-led NDA government had repeatedly denied any irregularity in the ₹58,000 crore Rafale deal.
Mr. Ambani had also rejected Mr. Gandhi’s allegations and emphasised that the government had no role in Dassault, the French makers of Rafale, choosing his company as offset partner.
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