Congress Tries to Reach Out to Farmers and Middle Class

Congress Tries to Reach Out to Farmers and Middle Class

Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi has said the NDA's land acquisition ordinance is anti-farmer.

New Delhi:  The Congress Party seems to be trying hard to build a support base among farmers and middle class, to take on the Modi government.

On Monday, senior general secretaries of the party held a meeting and chalked out a plan to start agitations with farmers. "We think the land acquisition ordinance is anti-farmer," declared Janardan Dwivedi, senior general secretary, after the meeting.

Party leaders also flagged the issue of shortage of urea, inadequate increase in Minimum Support Price (MSP) of paddy and wheat and the increase in taxes on petroleum products.

Mr Dwivedi said the Congress has now "decided to form steering committees to raise these issues in the states and party leaders would chalk out a plan to lead agitations and take these issues to the people."

Earlier, at the official Congress briefing, party spokesman Randeep Surjewala argued that the government had not passed on the benefits of the fall in international prices of crude oil to the consumers. "India is the only country where fuel for scooter is costlier than fuel for jet planes," said Surjewala.

The Congress argued that retail prices of petrol and diesel have not come down proportionately despite that fact that international crude oil prices had come down from $110 per barrel in May 2014, when the Modi government took charge, to $56 a barrel. According to the party, the reduction in petrol prices is about 15.7 percent and diesel is even lower at 11.38 percent.

"But during the same period, aviation turbine fuel has come down from 76 rupees to 52 rupees per litre. That's almost 10 rupees less than a what a person using a scooter pays for his petrol. Why is the Modi government betraying the farmer and the common man by refusing to pass on the benefit of a historic reduction in international crude prices?" asked Surjewala.

Though the government didn't directly respond to the Congress's charge, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in an interview to NDTV, said the Congress's "arithmetic skills on petrol prices are the same as their skills that got them 44 when they dreamt of 272."

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