Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls: Farmers wouldn't have been ruined if Vallabhbhai Patel was PM, says Narendra Modi

Mandsaur: Prime Minister Narendra Modi targeted the Nehru-Gandhi family on Saturday, saying farmers would not have been "ruined" had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been the country's first prime minister.

Addressing a rally here in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, he blamed the Congress-led governments of the past for the agrarian crisis.

"Generations of farmers have suffered due to the sins and wrong policies of the Congress, but now, our governments are being defamed," Modi told the gathering.

"The farmers in India would not have been ruined under the Congress's 55-year rule, had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been the country's first prime minister."

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

"It is true that we need some time to correct the mistakes of five-six decades. I have just got four years. Even if I get half the time they had, I will bring about a drastic change," he said.

Modi also accused the Congress of making false promises and raised questions over late prime minister Indira Gandhi's "Garibi Hatao" (remove poverty) slogan.

The prime minister's comments came in the backdrop of Congress president Rahul Gandhi accusing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of "making false promises" to people during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

"The grandmother of 'namdaar' (Rahul Gandhi), Shrimati Indira Gandhi, was the prime minister of the country. Didn't she give the slogan to remove poverty 40 years ago?"

"Tell me honestly, has poverty been eradicated? Wasn't this a false promise? Were those who made the promise not liars?" he asked the gathering.

Modi also said the move to nationalise banks did not benefit the poor as was claimed by the Indira Gandhi regime.

The prime minister also referred to a video clip purportedly showing Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kamal Nath, saying that the Congress leader seeking votes only from a "particular community" was an insult to democracy.

A video clip surfaced last week, purportedly showing Nath telling Muslim leaders to ensure "90 percent voting" in Muslim-dominated areas.

Modi also ridiculed Rahul Gandhi, saying the Congress chief was not being taken seriously by his own party.

Hailing Sardar Patel as a farmers' leader "in the true sense", he asked the peasants from Mandsaur to visit the Statue of Unity — the late leader's gigantic statue in Gujarat, which was inaugurated last month.

Mandsaur has been a hotbed of farmers' agitation. It witnessed intense protests by farmers for better support prices for their produce last year, leading to the death of six protesters in police firing.

Farmers in Karnataka, being ruled by the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress alliance, were jailed for seeking loan waiver, and the Congress's pre-poll promise of farm loan waiver in that state was another "lie", the prime minister said.

He also picked holes in the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's farm loan waiver scheme of 2008, claiming that it did not cover the deserving farmers.

Labelling the previous Manmohan Singh government as "a remote-controlled government by Madam (UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi)", Modi said it gave loans to farmers at an interest rate of 15-16 percent, whereas the BJP governments were giving interest-free loans to them.

His government was committed to empowering farmers, the prime minister said, and reiterated that it would double their income by 2022.

The 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly will go to the polls on 28 November and the results will be announced on 11 December.

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Updated Date: Nov 24, 2018 21:49:32 IST

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