Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday criticised the Congress for using farm loan waivers as a gimmick ahead of the Lok Sabha elections to win votes, PTI reported. A previous such initiative of the Opposition party was only for the benefit of middlemen and selected farmers, he alleged.
Modi made the remarks while addressing a public rally in Jammu and Kashmir’s Vijaypur. Elections to the Lok Sabha are likely to be held in April and May.
“People know the track record of the country’s ‘naamdar’ [dynast],” Modi said, referring to Congress President Rahul Gandhi. “They get ‘fever’ of loan waivers just before elections... they try to act as messiah of farmers by announcing farm loan waivers once in 10 years.”
The prime minister detailed several measures being taken by the National Democratic Alliance government to ensure the welfare of farmers neglected by the “previous governments”. “The Congress always left out 70%-80% poor farmers from the benefit of their farm loan waiver scheme,” he said. “What about these people?”
Modi said farm loan waivers, as promised by the Congress, is only a temporary solution. “A CAG [Comptroller and Auditor General] report found that about 30-35 lakh people who received these waivers were not even eligible to get it,” he alleged.
Extending support to the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Modi said his government would stand with the children of “Maa Bharti” who have faced persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. “We will stand with those who were part of India at one time, but got separated from us after the Partition in 1947,” he said.
Modi attacked the Congress for opposing the legislation and said it had refused to pay “attention to the pain of our brothers and sisters” when in power. “But we have brought the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill with a commitment... If they are discriminated on the basis of faith, the country will stand up with them,” he said.
Later, speaking in Srinagar, Modi said that India had shown the world its new “policy and tradition” in tackling terrorism by conducting the “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control in 2016. He said every terrorist will be dealt in a befitting manner. “We will break the backbone of terror in the state,” Modi said.
Modi in Leh
Earlier in the day, Modi inaugurated several projects in Leh district, including the district’s first university, the University of Ladakh. He said the speed at which his government had been working shows the country has left the “culture of delays” behind, the Hindustan Times reported.
“Our government believes in working faster,” he said. “The country has left behind the culture of delays. In the next five years, I want to rid the country completely of this culture of delays. Whatever project we begin, we try our level best to finish it within the stipulated time.”
The prime minister said the projects he had inaugurated would improve connectivity, tourism and employment opportunities in Leh and Ladakh. Announcing the opening of five trekking routes, Modi claimed these will “allow you to enjoy your journey”.
The prime minister said the Centre has given the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council more rights over their expenditures. “Now the autonomous council releases the money sent for the region’s development,” he added.
Addressing a gathering in Srinagar, Modi said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government will “break the back” of militancy in Kashmir, reported Greater Kashmir. Modi assured the youth of Jammu and Kashmir and the entire country that his government would fight militancy with full might and “give a befitting response” to every militant.
On the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley, Modi said the spirit of “Kashmiriyat” demands that Kashmiri Pandits who had to leave their property and land during the violence in the region were brought back with honour. “We are making attempts in this direction under Prime Minister’s development package,” he said.
He said the administration in the state, which is under President’s rule, has started construction of transit accommodation at Vessu in South Kashmir and Singhpora in North Kashmir.
Modi also paid respects to Lance Naik Nazir Ahmed Wani and Armyman Aurangzeb. The prime minister said “real heroes are those who live to fulfil their dreams and the biggest cowards are the ones who kill others’ dreams”.
Modi said development in Jammu and Kashmir was a “priority” for his government. On surgical strikes, Modi said India has “shown to entire world its policy and tradition”.
He also inaugurated the new administrative and academic blocks of Wakching New Model College in Nagaland from the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre in Srinagar on Sunday.
Mobile internet suspended in Kashmir, security enhanced
Meanwhile, mobile internet services in the state were suspended on Sunday ahead of Modi’s visit, Greater Kashmir reported. An unidentified police officer said the services were suspended shortly after midnight.
On Saturday, security was enhanced in the state. Security forces frisked people, especially in Srinagar, set up checkpoints and stopped several motorbikes, Rising Kashmir reported. A multi-tier security arrangement has been put in place, with contingents of police and the Central Reserve Police Force stationed in Jammu, where Modi is scheduled to hold a rally.
The Joint Resistance Leadership, comprising separatists Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, called a shutdown in Kashmir on Sunday against Modi’s visit, Greater Kashmir reported. The bandh was called to protest against the “tyranny and oppression” during five years of the Modi-led government.
All shops and businesses remained closed while most of the vehicles kept off the roads.