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‘Fake promises, tokenism’: PM’s sharp attack at Congress on loan waiver pitch

PM Modi, who has been a target of a sharp campaign by the opposition led by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi over the Rafale fighter jet deal, said people were calling him names because his crackdown on corruption had hurt them.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2018 23:18 IST
Naresh K Thakur
Naresh K Thakur
Hindustan Times, Dharamshala
Himachal Pradesh,PM Narendra Modi,Congress
Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress of deceiving farmers with promises of loan waivers and vowed to continue the crackdown against corruption.(PTI)

On a visit to Himachal Pradesh to mark one year of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule in the hill state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the Congress of deceiving farmers with the promise of loan waivers and vowed to pursue a crackdown on corruption.

Modi did not name the Congress for most part of his hour-long speech at a rally in Dharamshala to mark the completion of chief minister Jai Ram Thakur’s first year, but left no one in doubt about the target he had in mind.

He cautioned farmers against accepting false promises about loan waivers and said political parties should not make promises that they could not keep. “Only those promises should be made which can be fulfilled honestly and not just to win elections,” Modi said.

The Congress made agrarian distress one of the main themes of its campaign in the heartland states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which it wrested from BJP in the recent round of assembly elections. It promised loan waivers within 10 days of forming government in all three states, and newly sworn-in Congress governments have followed up on the pledge.

Modi said the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, which had come up with a loan waiver plan before the 2009 elections, had finally taken care of less than 10% of the Rs 6 lakh crore in outstanding agricultural loans.

It had cost the government Rs 52,000 crore and most of it did not reach farmers who really needed the money.

Similar promises were also made during Punjab elections, but farmers have not got a single penny, he said, adding that nothing significant had happened in Karnataka either.

Modi’s vow to pursue his fight against corruption came against the backdrop of charges by the Congress and other opposition parties of financial irregularities in the deal to purchase 36 French-made Rafale aircraft. “Chowkidaar hi chor hai” (the watchman is the thief) was one of the slogans that the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi used repeatedly to target Modi on the campaign trail.

At Thursday’s rally, Modi said: “They are scared of the watchman. They are losing sleep that the watchman is not ready to sleep... is not ready spare them... This is the problem. With your blessings, we will overcome these problems too and move forward.”

First Published: Dec 27, 2018 16:40 IST