Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi tore into Prime Minister Narendra Modi and poked fun at Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, calling him “mini-Modi”, as he blamed the two leaders for breaking their promises to farmers while he trekked through drought-hit villages of the southern state on Friday.
The 44-year-old’s visit to Telangana is part of a nationwide campaign to court voters in the backwoods amid growing rural resentment over the Centre’s land acquisition policy and an acute agrarian crisis, as his party strives to rise from a rut after being decimated in a series of elections.
“Modi in Delhi and the mini-Modi here have no time for the farmers suffering with crop loss. There would not be a need for me to come here had Modi and mini-Modi visited you in your time of distress,” he told farmers at a public meeting following a 15-kilometre padyatra, or foot march, through Adilabad district.
A combative Rahul Gandhi has been relentlessly attacking the government inside and outside Parliament on farmers’ issues since his return from a nearly two-month sabbatical and has travelled to several states in a bid to rally support against contentious central policies.
“It is a government of a chosen few. It is a government of suit-boot and some handpicked industrialists,” he said, reiterating a charge he made in Parliament that the Modi administration was favouring capitalists while neglecting the poor.
Gandhi accused the Prime Minister, who is on a state visit to China, of attempting to snatch land from farmers and give it to his “industrialist friends”, as he met families of peasants who allegedly committed suicide over crop loss and debt.
“Achche din (good days) have not come for the people but for Modi, who is visiting different countries,” he quipped. “Wherever I go people tell me that they have made a mistake (by voting for the NDA) and that they feel they are trapped... The land you till is gold and they want to transfer it completely to two-three of their friends. We are against this crony capitalism.”
State Congress leaders said the visit will help them corner the chief minister over several issues and boost the party’s morale after its bruising loss to the TRS in the state’s first assembly election last year.
Telangana’s ruling party, however, condemned Gandhi’s padyatra, saying the Congress was politicising farmers’ problems.
“It is a political tour and is ridiculous on the part of the Congress, which ruled for 50 years, to now highlight the farmers’ troubles.
Anyhow, if Mr Gandhi can come up with a solution for the problem after his tour, then let him share it with us so that we can implement it to better the farming sector,” TRS MP Kalvakuntla Kavitha told HT.