Prime Minister Narendra Modi today accused the Congress of "misleading farmers" in the name of loan waivers, days after Rahul Gandhi said he would "not let him sleep or rest" until the centre writes off farm loans across the country.
"You know it cannot be done. This is only being done to win elections. To win elections you're fooling the youth. To win elections you're stabbing the farmer in the back," PM Modi said, addressing a rally in Himachal Pradesh to celebrate one year of the Jai Ram Thakur-led BJP government.
Rahul Gandhi's challenge followed Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh announcing farm loan waivers not long after the new chief ministers took charge. "It's done," tweeted the Congress chief, saying he had asked for 10 days while campaigning for the state elections but his party had made good on the promise sooner.
In his strongest reaction on farm loan waivers in recent times, PM Modi said: "If you can't deliver, tell the farmers that, they will accept it. Don't lie and play with their lives."
Targeting the Congress, he said "They did that in 2008 - farmer debt was Rs 6 lakh crore, they announced Rs 60,000 crore and they paid only 52,000 crores. In Punjab, before the election they promised, but nothing was given. In Karnataka too, only 800 farmers benefited and that too was token."
The prime minister's comments came a day after reports that he held a high-level meeting at his official home in Delhi to discuss a wide-ranging farm relief plan that goes beyond loan waivers.
Sources say PM Modi held discussions with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, BJP chief Amit Shah and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh. According to finance ministry sources, the government will announce a new set of measures for farmers before the end of the winter session on January 5.
Among the ideas discussed in the meeting were extending schemes by two BJP governments to the national level. One of them is the scheme of the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh to pay the farmers the difference between Minimum Support Price and the market price.