STORY: President of India’s main opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, on Wednesday (June 06) addressed a farmers’ rally in central Madhya Pradesh state, and promised to waive farm loans within 10 days of coming to power.
You can start counting days from the day Congress party comes to power in Madhya Pradesh, I am guaranteeing that within ten days your debt will be waived, said Gandhi while addressing farmers in Mandsaur district of the state, a year after seven people were killed in a police firing on the agitating farmers in the district.
Madhya Pradesh is currently governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and led by chief of the state, Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Congress hasn’t tasted success in the state for 15 years now and is looking to ride on the farmers’ agitation and anti-incumbency factor against BJP in the elections due later this year.
Gandhi also met the families of the deceased and the injured victims from the agitation a year ago and assured them of appropriate action against those involved in the firing.
Six farmers were killed on June 6 last year when the police opened fire on protesters Mandsaur. The agitation last year started with peaceful protests and grew violent as protestors harmed railroad tracks and rail route crossing entryways, assaulted policemen, and pelted stones at them, setting 27 vehicles ablaze in the process. The situation grew worse and police resorted to firing. One year on, it is not yet clear if the police fired the first bullet or if it was retaliation to firing by the farmers first. Chief of the state Chouhan had requested a legal investigation into the firing. The agitation, however, was the epicentre of farmers’ protests across Madhya Pradesh.
Two-thirds of India’s population of 1.3 billion depend on farming for their livelihood, but the sector makes up just 14 percent of gross domestic product, reflecting a growing divide between the countryside and increasingly well-off cities.