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Congress will waive agricultural loans if voted to power: Rahul Gandhi tells farmers in Maharashtra

Addressing farmers in Maharashtra, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the Congress will create long-term solution to help farmers such as creating farm infrastructure — roads, markets, cold storages and food proceedings units — so that they can get better price for their produce.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2018 23:01 IST
Pradip Kumar Maitra, Hindustan Times, Nanded (Chandrapur)
Congress,agricultural loan,Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi visited Nanded to pay tributes to farmer and rice researcher Dadaji Khobragade, who had invented the HMT variety of rice.(Sunny Shende/HT Photo)

In what is being viewed as a groundwork for next year’s parliamentary elections, Congress president Rahul Gandhi reached out to women, youth and farmers at Nanded in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district on Wednesday.

During his interaction with villagers, Gandhi said he would waive agricultural loans and do everything to protect their interests if voted to power.

“The Modi government is dishonest. It only cares for the country’s 15 top industrialists and has provided them with a Rs 2.5-lakh crore corporate loan waiver. It will do nothing for poor farmers,” he added.

Gandhi said that while waiving loans is not the ultimate solution, there are times when it becomes necessary. “If the Congress comes to power, it will ensure that farmers get their due. The long-term solution lies in creating farm infrastructure — roads, markets, cold storages and food proceedings units — so that farmers can get better price for their produce,” he said.

The Congress chief said he prefers to have a dialogue with people instead of just delivering speeches. “I will not make any false promises like Modi. I have just come here to tell you that if elected, we will do everything needed to rebuild your confidence,” he promised during his 20-minute interaction with the villagers.

Gandhi visited Nanded, located in the state’s paddy belt, to pay his tributes to a farmer and rice researcher who had died in penury on June 3. Dadaji Khobragade, who had invented the HMT variety of rice, received some media attention when a popular magazine named him among India’s seven most powerful entrepreneurs in 2010.

However, Khobragade was unable to afford medical treatment following a paralytic attack in his last days. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis sanctioned Rs 2.5 lakh for his medical treatment, but the farmer had already passed away at a private hospital in Gadchiroli’s Chandgaon village by then.

Gandhi said the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government had been providing Rs 35,000 crore in funds for rural employment every year while the Modi government allowed the transfer of a similar amount to a single businessman, Nirav Modi, who then fled the country.

“The Modi government waived industrial loans amounting to Rs 2.5 lakh crore in a bid to appease the country’s top 15 industrial families, but is not ready to help crisis-ridden farmers,” he said. The Congress government, on the other hand, had waived over Rs 70,000 crore in farm loans across the country, he added.

Gandhi said the Modi government has betrayed both farmers and youth by neither providing them with remunerative rates for agricultural produce nor employment opportunities in the last four years. “The Congress, if voted to power in 2019, will provide on both counts,” he said.

Gandhi said his party will work on four fronts — agriculture, health, education and industry — on a priority basis to ensure a prosperous India.

Earlier, he visited Khobragade’s residence and offered condolences to his bereaved family. Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ashok Chavan and senior party leaders Ashok Gehlot and Mohan Prakash were also present on the occasion.

The state Congress and a few party leaders, including Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil and Naresh Pugalia, gifted Rs 8.5 lakh to Khobragade’s family and promised a government job to one of his relatives if voted to power.

First Published: Jun 13, 2018 22:45 IST