Rahul Gandhi targets BJP govt over farm distress

In his first speech in the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government for an alleged increase in the number of suicides by farmers.

Raising the issue of farmers during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi claimed that their condition was “terrible” and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address their problems.

Gandhi highlighted the problems being faced by farmers in Kerala, particularly in his constituency Wayanad, where a farmer committed suicide on Wednesday, allegedly because he was laden by debt. “There is a terrible situation of farmers. I urge the PM to address their problems,” he said.

Gandhi criticised the Union Budget for not including “concrete” steps to provide relief to farmers. “The PM made certain commitments five years ago to the farmers on prices and farm loans. I would request the government to fulfil these commitments,” he said. In Wayanad alone, Gandhi said, bank notices for non-payment of loans have been served on 8,000 farmers, who are facing threat of eviction.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh countered the allegation, saying people who ran the government for decades were responsible for the present condition of farmers, in an allusion to the Congress.

He said most suicides by farmers took place before the BJP-led government came to power in 2014. He said that thanks to efforts of the Modi government, the incomes of farmers had increased by 20-25%. “I firmly say that the MSP increased by this government was never increased by any previous governments in the history of free India,” Singh said.

Unsatisfied with the minister’s reply, Congress members staged a brief walkout.

First Published:
Jul 11, 2019 23:31 IST

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