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Rahul hits out at Modi govt over farmers’ plight in Punjab

Rahul in Bathinda

Bathinda : Taking on the Badal government and NDA at the Centre over the farm crisis in Punjab, Rahul Gandhi today said industrialists are always given a “red carpet welcome” in the Modi government while farmers are met with “closed” doors by banks.

Winding up his two-day tour of Malwa belt of Punjab, the bastion of the Badal family, he said, “The Modi run NDA government did not accept Congress points on Land Bill which clearly speaks of their pro-industrialist and anti-farmer strategies.”

Rahul said Congress had opposed the Land reform Bill on three points which include if work does not start in five years land shall be re-transferred to farmer and a social audit be necessary to assess the loss owing to it to farmers and farm labourers.

However, the Modi government did not accept these points. “This clearly spoke of their pro-industrialist and anti-farmer strategies,” he said.

Farmers in Bathinda, the cotton belt of the state, have suffered huge losses due to whitefly attack on crop.

Punjab’s farming sector has been witnessing fall in productivity with farmers reeling under debt. Cases of farmers committing suicide have also been on the upswing in the state.

Maintaining that Congress is the only solution to the farmers’ problems, he said at Mallawala that the Modi and Badal governments are “anti-farmers and anti-labourers.”

Referring to the problem of drugs in Punjab, Rahul said senior Akali leaders had made fun of him when he made a statement that 70 per cent population of the state was getting addicted to drugs.

“But now when the world has come to know and every one is saying the same, they have started agreeing to it,” he said.

The biggest fight in Punjab now is to check addiction and the biggest solution to it starts with creating new avenues of employment for the young and educated youth of Punjab, he said.

“It can be done only when Congress comes to power in the state,” Rahul said.

Earlier, before undertaking a three km ‘padyatra’ to Mallawala village, Rahul visited the house of Jagdev Singh (65), a farmer who committed suicide last month due to crop failure.

Assuring all possible help to the family of the farmer, Rahul said his party was all out to help those in need and “root out the weeds in the form of Akali-BJP combine”.

“Good times are on the anvil,” he said while announcing a relief of Rs one lakh for the family of the deceased farmer.

After meeting the family, Rahul started his ‘padyatra’ from village Bhukhianwali to Mallawala.

Rahul started his second day tour of Punjab by offering prayers at Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo near here.

With his head covered with a piece of cloth, Rahul paid obeisance and also ate food at the ‘langar’ (community kitchen). He was presented with ‘Siropa’ (robe of honour) at the Takht Damdama Sahib.

Rahul also listened to the ‘Gurbani’ inside the gurudwara.

Takht Damdama Sahib is the place where Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, prepared the full version of Guru Granth Sahib in 1705.

Yesterday in Faridkot, Rahul had met with families of two Sikhs who died in police firing during a protest against an incident of sacrilege last month.

Rahul also cautioned Badal against “playing communal politics” and expressed solidarity with the Sikhs over incidents of sacrilege.

Lashing out at Punjab government, he said the Congress would meet President Pranab Mukherjee and demand a probe by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court into the police firing on protesters at Behbal Kalan in Faridkot last month in which two Sikhs were killed.

On the last leg of his Punjab tour, Rahul visited Manwala village, which has been adopted by Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal. The village falls in Bathinda Parliamentary constituency twice represented by Harsimrat in Parliament.

During his visit to the state, Rahul also showcased the factionally divided Congress in the state as ‘one unit’.

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