Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking a waiver of loans given to farmers and also urged him to halve their electricity bills.
In a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders also demanded that the government should provide for higher MSP for crops.
A Gandhi-led Congress delegation raised the issue of farmer suicides with Modi and urged him to write off the loans given to farmers like it has been done in the case of corporates.
“Thousands of farmers are committing suicide across the country. Every single day a farmer is committing suicide in Punjab. We met the Prime Minister and apprised him about the plight of farmers,” Gandhi told the media.
The Congress submitted two crore ‘maangpatras’ from Uttar Pradesh and 30 lakh ‘maangpatras’ from Punjab, collected during door-to-door outreach in both the states.
“This government has waived off loans of Rs 1.40 lakh crore to corporates. So we urge the government to waive off the loans of the farmers as well,” Gandhi said.
The delegation comprised Congress leaders including Punjab state unit chief Captain Amarinder Singh, Lok Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge and the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Gandhi said the government decision to remove import duty on wheat was a “terrible blow” to the farmers.
“The Prime Minister too admitted the condition of the farmers to be grave. But he did not say anything about waiving off the loans to farmers,” he said.
“We are constrained to draw your kind attention to the acute agrarian distress and the plight of Indian farmers who have suffered over the last two years,” said the memorandum.
“Indian agriculture has been severely affected due to two consecutive droughts, unseasonal rains and floods which effected over 33 crores people in the country,” it added.
The memorandum said lakhs of hectares of standing crops were lost and millions of farmers dependent on agriculture had lost their livelihood.
“The distress has been further aggravated by their high indebtedness aggregating to approximately 4.2 lakh crore.
“Crop failures and inability to repay their debts and accumulated interest led large number of farmers to commit suicides.”
He said the first demand was to waive off farmer loans, something the UPA government had done.
Among other Congress leaders who met Modi were Anand Sharma, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Satyavrat Chaturvedi, Deependra Hooda, Raj Babbar, Pramod Tiwari, Rajani Patil, Ravneet Singh Bittu and P.L. Punia.
Gandhi’s meeting with Modi comes days after he vowed to expose the Prime Minister’s “personal complicity in corruption”.