Congress challenges PM Modi’s silence on farmers and unemployment


PTI, May 23, 2024, 5:16 PM IST

The Congress Thursday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his ”silence” on the ongoing farmers’ protest in Punjab and on the issue of unemployment in Haryana, as he canvassed for the BJP in the two states on the last day of campaigning for the sixth phase of Lok Sabha polls.

Prime Minister Modi addressed a rally in Haryana’s Mahendragarh during the day and is scheduled to speak at another in Patiala in neighbouring Punjab.

In a post on X, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh asked, ”Today’s questions for the outgoing PM’s visit to Patiala: Why is the outgoing PM silent even after 100 days of farmer protests? What happened to the outgoing PM’s allegations of corruption against Capt. Amarinder Singh? Why has Patiala been left out of the Smart Cities Mission?” he asked.

The Congress leader also alleged that despite repeated promises, the BJP government has ”failed” to provide permanent employment opportunities in Haryana and instead, it is promoting temporary contractual jobs through Skill Employment Corporation.

Ramesh said it has been 100 days since Punjab’s farmers began their latest protest against the Modi government. Since 2020, more than 850 farmers have lost their lives and more than 400 have been injured in protests, he said.

”Farmers are demanding a legal guarantee for MSP, farm loan-waivers, and increases in MGNREGA wages for labourers. Despite their clear demands for a dialogue, the outgoing PM continues to ignore their protests, instead meeting them with barricades and teargas wherever they go. Now, he is even threatening to withdraw MSP for farmers who engage in stubble-burning. Why is the PM so vindictive towards India’s farmers,” the Congress leader asked.

He claimed that the Congress ‘Nyay Patra’ — the party’s manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls — has promised a legal guarantee for MSP, a loan-waiver for farmers, and an increase in the MGNREGA daily wages to Rs 400. ”Does the BJP have any plan to make farming more remunerative,” Ramesh asked.

Training his guns on the PM over the issue of corruption, he said that in a classic demonstration of its ”washing machine” powers, the BJP has given tickets to leaders against whom the ”outgoing PM” had once levelled serious allegations of corruption.

Ramesh said that during his 2014 campaign, Modi, when he was still the chief minister of Gujarat, launched a scathing attack on former then Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, accusing him of not disclosing the details of foreign bank accounts allegedly held by his wife Preneet Kaur, the current BJP candidate from the Patiala Lok Sabha seat.

He had labelled them ”lootere” and demanded they bring back the black money they stashed abroad. ”Now, the outgoing PM has not only welcomed them with open arms but is also campaigning for them. Why is the outgoing PM campaigning for leaders who he accuses of having black money stashed in foreign accounts?” he asked. He also alleged that Patiala has been left out of successive rounds of the Smart City Programme despite being an education hub and an important centre of trade and commerce. In 2015, even Preneet Kaur, who is now the BJP’s candidate from the city, had criticised this decision.

”She said that she failed to find reason why Patiala has not been included in the list of the cities to be developed as ‘Smart City’. Why have the outgoing PM and the BJP neglected this bustling and historic city,” he asked.

In another post on X on the Prime Minister’s campaign in Haryana, Ramesh said, ”Outgoing PM. Now that we have his attention, here are today’s questions for him in Mahendragarh: Who made Haryana Number 1 in unemployment? Why has BJP slowed down private investment in Haryana? Why are Bhiwani residents being forced to protest for clean drinking water and proper sewerage?” Citing the latest data from the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE), Ramesh said Haryana has the highest unemployment rate in India at 37.4 per cent, far surpassing the national average.

”Despite repeated promises and announcements, the BJP government has failed to provide permanent employment opportunities. Instead, they are promoting temporary contractual jobs through the Skill Employment Corporation,” he said.

This neglect has left about two lakh government posts vacant, and the recent decision to shut down Hisar Doordarshan Kendra has further exacerbated the unemployment crisis, leaving dozens jobless and wasting valuable infrastructure, Ramesh said.

”The BJP’s approach, characterised by hollow assurances and a lack of concrete action, has consistently failed the youth. Did the outgoing PM and the BJP ever plan to create better opportunities for Haryana’s youth?” he said.

Ramesh further said that having received just one per cent of all bank-assisted private projects in India in 2022-23, Haryana ranks in the bottom five states on this metric.

After 10 years in the state, why has the BJP failed to attract investment and job opportunities to Haryana, he asked. ”Why has the outgoing PM and his Double Anyay Sarkar failed to address the poor law and order situation?” He also said the residents of Bhiwani have been struggling with problems of water scarcity, contaminated supply, and sewerage leakages.

”Why are the people of Bhiwani struggling for basic necessities even after 10 years of the BJP rule? Can the outgoing PM tell us why, even after months of protests, the BJP has been unable to resolve these issues?” he said, askinge prime minister to break his ”silence” on the issue.

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