Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, a fierce critic of the government on farmers' issues, drove a tractor after a public meeting in Punjab's Ludhiana on Wednesday. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Ludhiana party candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu and Congress leader Asha Kumari were seen seated on both sides.
The message, as tweeted along with a video by party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, was clear enough: "Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Hindustan". And it was a significant one, considering that the photo-op comes ahead of the last phase of the Lok Sabha polls on May 19 - when all 13 seats in Punjab will go to polls.
Farmer distress is one of the key issues on which the Congress has repeatedly targeted the ruling BJP government, and working towards that front, it has made farm loan waivers one of its biggest poll promises in the ongoing elections. It was on this very assurance that the party won the assembly elections in the three Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh last year. For the national elections, it has promised to bring a separate budget aimed at ensuring loan waivers and fair crop prices for farmers.
The BJP, however, does not share the same view. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often accused the Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government of deceiving farmers on the issue of loan waivers.
Last month, actor-turned-BJP lawmaker Hema Malini was also seen driving a tractor on her "field visit" to Mathura. She, however, was trolled by National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Twitter after the latter noticed two machines that looked suspiciously like high-powered fans on either side. "What are those drums on the side? Please don't tell me those are mist generators for cool air? Wow, that's one fancy tractor," he commented.
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