Tried to ‘steal’ power instead of helping after Himachal’s monsoon disaster: Rahul Gandhi hits out at Modi - Hindustan Times
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Tried to ‘steal’ power instead of helping after Himachal’s monsoon disaster: Rahul Gandhi hits out at Modi

By, , Shimla/dharamshala
May 27, 2024 01:10 PM IST

Rahul Gandhi says Centres waived off loans worth ₹16 lakh crore for 22 individuals over the last decade, but failed to give ₹9,000 cr for disaster relief

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday deplored Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing to provide relief to the state when it was hit by the monsoon disaster last year.

Congress’ state unit president Pratibha Singh, CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, senior party leader Rahul Gandhi and party’s Shimla Lok Sabha candidate Vinod Sultanpuri during the election rally in Nahan, Himachal. (HT Photo)
Congress’ state unit president Pratibha Singh, CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, senior party leader Rahul Gandhi and party’s Shimla Lok Sabha candidate Vinod Sultanpuri during the election rally in Nahan, Himachal. (HT Photo)

In a charged address at an election rally in Nahan, Sirmaur district, Gandhi alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which leads the ruling alliance at the Centre, tried to “steal” power in Himachal instead of helping the state in its time of need.

“Modi attempted to ‘steal’ the state from the elected government,” the leader said at a time when the BJP has itself accused the Sukvinder Singh Sukhu-led Congress government in the state of mismanaging Centre’s disaster aid.

Gandhi criticised the PM for allegedly waiving loans worth 16 lakh crore for 22 individuals over the past decade, while failing to allocate 9,000 crore for disaster relief in Himachal following the devastation caused by the rain-induced floods.

Addressing a large crowd to canvas for Congress Shimla (SC) Lok Sabha candidate Vinod Sultanpuri, Gandhi claimed that Modi’s policies favoured a select few.

He struck an emotional chord with the farmers and the apple growers, invoking the exploitation being meted out by private players. He asserted that Modi had transferred control of storage facilities to one individual, allegedly to manipulate apple prices. He claimed that share prices of Adani-owned companies surge whenever Modi takes office.

The leader invoked his family connection with the state, saying sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra now lives in Shimla. He dubbed himself and Priyanka as the “people’s soldier” in Delhi and chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sulhu in the state: “hum aapkay siphai hein (we are your soldiers)”.

Promises jobs, MSP, loan waiver

Gandhi laid out the Congress party’s key promises, including the introduction of a minimum support price (MSP) for crops and farm loan waivers if elected to power. He pledged financial assistance of 1 lakh per year to poor families until they rise above the poverty line and promised to fill 30 lakh vacancies in government departments to tackle unemployment.

Gandhi accused BJP leaders of undermining the Constitution, warning that their actions could threaten India’s democratic framework. He urged Congress workers to secure victory in all four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh to prevent these alleged attacks on the Constitution.

Addressing the crowd, Sukhu said, “I only had one direction from Rahul Gandhi, that my government should reach the last person in the society.”

“Congress will pay 18,000 per annum to women above the age of 18,” he said,before castigating the BJP for the orchestrating rebellion in the Congress. “It is a fight between the public and the sold-out leaders. The time has come to defeat those who use money power to murder democracy. The biggest power in a democracy is the people’s power.”

Congress’ state unit chief, Pratibha Singh praised the Sukhu government’s achievement in the last 15 months. “It’s only been 15 months and the Sukhu government has worked hard to deliver the promises made to the people. And three years are still left.”

BJP created ‘categories’ of martyr

Gandhi later in the day addressed a gathering in Una in support of party’s Hamirpur Lok Sabha candidate Satpal Raizada., promising to scrap the contentious military recruitment scheme, Agniveer, if the Congress-led INDIA alliance is voted to power.

He accused PM Modi of making categories of martyrs by implementing such a scheme, adding, “PM Modi has created two categories of martyrs – one normal jawan or officer, who get martyr’s status, his family will get pension and all other facilities; second martyr who PM Modi names as ‘Agniveer’ will neither get training nor pension and will be thrown out of army after four years,”

Fight to save Constitution

Gandhi said their fight was to save the Constitution. “It is the voice of people of the country and all things people of the country got is because of this constitution. You would have never gotten Himachal Pradesh without this constitution. This constitution has given you the state,” he said.

Gandhi called the electoral bonds the biggest extortion scheme in the world and Modi the “epicentre” of corruption, questioning, “When the Supreme Court asks the government to reveal the donors’ names, why is the government not revealing them? Why have you hidden them? This is a tool to extort money.”

He also promised to make crores of people “lakhpati” if voted to power. “We will do for the common people what Modi did for 22 individuals. We will identify poor families and select one woman from each family to receive 8,500 in their bank accounts every month. This support will continue until the family crosses the poverty line,” he added.

The leader also promised to increase the wages under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) to 400 per day and filling the 30 lakh government positions that are lying vacant and launching a year-long apprenticeship with a stipend of 8,500 per month unemployed diploma holders and graduates.

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