New Delhi: In a recorded voice message, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is reaching out to farmers of Punjab and “promising” to waive their agriculture debt if his party comes to power in the state after the 2017 assembly elections.
Rahul’s ‘message’, conceptualised by Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishor, is part of the party’s mega farmer outreach programme ‘Karza Kurki Khatam-Fasal Di Poori Rakam’ where it promises farmers, who sign ‘Maang Patr’ (debt waiver form), that their loans will be waived if it forms the government in the state. In the message, the Congress leader, while thanking farmers for being “associated” with ‘Kisan Abhiyan’, says, “You are aware that farmers are facing problems. When our government was in power, we helped them a lot. We raised Minimum Support Price (MSP) and you may be remembering that in 2008 we helped farmers by waiving off Rs 70,000 crore as debt. I promise you that Congress will hear out the voice of growers. When our government comes, we will waive off the debt”.
After he finishes his message, a jingle in Punjabi is played where the singer “promises” that happiness will “return” to the state- “Phir to ek var, Chaunda e Punjab, Captain di Sarkar.” “Farmers, who are signing ‘Maang Patr’ during the Kisan campaign, are asked to give a missed call to a number given to them. A recorded voice message of Rahul Gandhi will be sent to each of them,”an IPAC member said. Congress, which has been eyeing to wrest power from Akali-BJP regime, is wooing Punjab’s small and marginal farmers which form the major chunk of the vote bank in the state.
Earlier, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh had undertaken a 500-km long ‘Kisan bus yatra’ in seven districts, including Moga, Faridkot, Ludhiana and Bathinda, to assure the the farming community that his party would “safeguard their interests and alleviate their sufferings”. Aam Aadmi Party, which had already released its farmers manifesto, had also promised loan waiver.