In the first of his four campaign rallies in Tamil Nadu on Friday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said he would never let the people of the state be ruled by Nagpur, a reference to the RSS headquarters. He expressed confidence that Tamil Nadu would be ruled by Congress ally DMK’s MK Stalin. Speaking in Krishnagiri, Rahul Gandhi said, “We will never let the people of Tamil Nadu be ruled by Nagpur. Tamil Nadu is going to be ruled from Tamil Nadu and MK Stalin is going to be the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.”
Rahul Gandhi’s statement is a dig at the ruling AIADMK that has been accused of being controlled by the BJP-led Centre. The results of the bye-elections to 22 constituencies in the state, which is happening simultaneously with the Lok Sabha Elections, can potentially bring down the AIADMK government, which is presently sitting on a razor thin majority. If the DMK sweeps the bye-polls, Stalin could also stake claim to form the next government.
The Congress chief’s campaign speech in Krishnagiri was focused on highlighting the party’s key promises for 2019 – including the NYAY scheme. “The moment Congress party comes to power in Delhi, we will identify the 20% poorest families in the country. We will make a list of the poorest people. And then after that, every one of these people will be given Rs 72000 every year. That’s Rs 3,60,000 in five years. Every single poor family will get this.” He added that the scheme would revive India’s economy and help thousands of Tamil youngsters to get jobs.
Raising the destruction brought upon by Cyclone Gaja, Rahul Gandhi slammed the AIADMK government for “insulting our farmers”. “Now I understand that farmers are facing a very difficult time. Cyclone Gaja destroyed the food base of Tamil Nadu. The Cauvery basin, 8 districts were completely destroyed. The AIADMK government insulted our farmers. 40 lakh farmers lost their work, Rs 6000 crore of MGNREGA money is due to them. Mr Narendra Modi took away the bonus that our farmer used to be given,”
Promising that his party would bring about a separate farmers’ budget if the Congress was voted to power, Rahul Gandhi added, “In the beginning of the year itself that we will tell them what the govt of india is going to do for them. How much their MSP will raise. How much bonuses they will get, and what initiatives govt will take for farmers that year. This is a historic step and it will allow our farmers to plan for the future.”
Slamming the Centre for allowing economic fugitives like Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallaya, who owe the country thousands of crores to banks, to escape, Rahul Gandhi went on to say, “Why is it that when you have 1000s of crores and you don’t pay a bank loan , you don’t go to jail. But when you’re a farmer and you don’t pay a bank loan back you go to jail. So, the moment we come to power, we want to change the law for farmers. We have taken another historic decision. After 2019, no farmer will be put in jail for not paying debt he owes to the bank. It is not fair that the richest people of the land do not go to jail but our farmers go to jail for the same crime.”
Rahul Gandhi is also campaigning in Salem, Theni, and Madurai on Friday. Tamil Nadu goes to polls on April 18, while results will be announced on May 23.