New Delhi: Attacked by the Congress over farmers' issues, the BJP Monday sought to turn the tables on the party by accusing it of "duping" farmers in the states where it came to power with the promise of waiving their loans.
Charging the Congress with betraying farmers, Union minister Prakash Javadekar also took a dig at its president Rahul Gandhi, saying peasants will now spoil his sleep.
He was apparently reacting to Gandhi's remark that he will not let Prime Minister Narendra Modi sleep till all farm loans are waived.
At a press conference, Javadekar quoted figures to claim that the Congress has done little to waive farmers' loan in states like Karnataka and Punjab and that it has also not met its promise in Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the three states it won recently.
Javadekar told reporters that the Congress had promised to waive all farm debt in these five states but has now turned back on its promise.
He told reporters that the Congress had promised a farm loan waiver of Rs 45,000 loan in Karnataka, but had not paid even Rs 75 crore so far.
Against the total farmers' loan of Rs 90,000 crore in Punjab, the Congress government in the state has only allocated Rs 3,000 crore in the budget and even this much loan has not been waived so far, he said.
Farmers had hoped that they would no longer have to repay their dues but banks have been serving notices on them, causing them distressed, the BJP leader said.
Javadekar claimed 397 farmers have committed suicide in the six-month reign of the JD(S)-Congress government in Karnata.
Agriculture distress and farmers' woes have been a key campaign issue of Gandhi, who has blamed the Narendra Modi government for this, and political watchers believe that it has played a role in his party's win in the recent state polls.
The BJP's counter-offensive indicate that that the party has come to realise the seriousness of the issue and believes that it can corner the Congress over the matter. ?
Javadekar alleged that the Karnataka government even asked the nationalised banks to write off farmers' loans and has now come out with 52 eligibility conditions for the loan waiver.
Not more than 15 per cent farmers will be eligible, he said.
"The long reign of over 50 years of the Congress at the Centre is responsible for the farmers' plight, and the Modi government has tried to change their fortunes by giving then enhanced price for their crops," he said.
"The Congress has always been anti-farmers. It is betraying them, duping them in the name of loan waiver," he alleged.
Claiming that the Modi government is working to double farmers' income by 2022, Javadekar said it has accepted the Swaminathan Commission report and increased the minimum support price of crops accordingly, while the Congress never accepted its recommendations.