Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday promised to waive farm loans across the country if his party is voted to power in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

“When we form the government in Centre in 2019, we will waive farm loans across the country,” Gandhi said at a rally in Jaipur. This is his first visit to Rajasthan since the Congress won the Assembly elections in December. “This is a first step to provide relief to the farmers but this is not the final solution.”

A new “green revolution” is required to address the problem of agriculture distress, he said, adding that the party will start food processing units near farms.

The newly elected Congress governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh announced loan waivers for farmers within days of being elected to power. Several people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the NITI Aayog, have said that such waivers are not long-term solutions.

Rafale deal

Gandhi also criticised the Modi government over the Rafale defence deal. “Chowkidaar [watchman, in reference to Modi] could not stand in Lok Sabha for a minute during the debate on Rafale issue,” he said. The Congress chief also reiterated his party’s demand for an inquiry by a joint parliamentary committee.

The Congress has accused the Centre of signing an overpriced deal and helping Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence, which had no prior experience in the sector before landing a contract with Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of the fighter jets.