Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today sought to corner the NDA government over the GST issue claiming the indirect tax regime was rolled out in a hurry to "impress" the world, ignoring the interests of small businessmen in the country. Addressing a farmers' rally at a college ground in the tribal region of Rajasthan here, he said Parliament can function at midnight to roll out the Goods and Services Tax (GST) but no discussion on farmers' issues can take place "even for a minute".
"I was in the Lok Sabha before coming to Banswara. We wanted a discussion over farmers' issues but we were not allowed to speak, not even for a minute," he claimed. The GST on the other hand, was implemented at midnight, Gandhi said.
"The prime minister wanted to show it to the world and to the US President. But India does not belong to the USA. Hindustan belongs to the farmers, labourers, small businessmen," he said while addressing thousands of people who came here from different parts of Rajasthan and nearby states, including Madhya Pradesh.
Accusing the BJP of ignoring the interest of farmers, Gandhi said his party stands with the tillers and would put pressure on the Vasundhara Raje-led government in Rajasthan to waive farm loans.
He claimed that the Congress put pressure on the BJP government which led to the farm loan waiver in Uttar Pradesh.
"We had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a farm loan waiver, right prices for the crops and waiving electricity bills. We had even submitted a petition to the government signed by two crore farmers," the Congress vice president said.
He said the demand for loan waivers was being raised across the country and the Congress governments in Karnataka and Punjab had already written off loans. "The Congress in Rajasthan will put pressure on the state government and will get the farmers' loans waived... We will not let the chief minister sleep till then," Gandhi said.
He asked the state party leaders to put pressure on the government to waive farm loans and said he was ready to go to any district or place whenever required for this.
"We are not in the government. Had we been, there would not have been a need for this speech," Gandhi said.
The Congress vice president said in the run up to the 2014 general elections, two major promises related to farmers and the youth were made by Modi.
"Modi talks about 'Make in India' and jobs for youths. But when we raised a question in Parliament, the government replied that less than one lakh jobs were given last year," he said.
Wondering how the country would progress if jobs were not created and tribals, Dalits and the poor were not given their rights, Gandhi alleged that the NDA government was only functioning for "the sake of 50 big industrialists" of the country.
He claimed that the voices of the weak, did not reach the BJP and the RSS.
"The government is being run for a few big businessmen who earn a lot. But, for small traders, Dalits and farmers, they do not have any concern," Gandhi said.
Before addressing the rally, Gandhi met the families of a few farmers who had committed suicide and small traders on the college grounds. Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot alleged farmers were being exploited under the BJP's rule, both at the Centre and in the state.
"Incidents of farmer suicide are on the rise in Rajasthan. This rally will give a message that under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, the farmers of India will throw the BJP out of power," he said.
Former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot alleged that the BJP came to power on false promises and was working in a "vindictive" manner. He said major projects such a power plant, Jaipur Metro, Parwan dam and the Banswara-Ralam railway line project had been stalled.
Congress leaders C P Joshi, Mohan Prakash, Girija Vyas, Mahendrajeet Singh Malvia and others also addressed the rally.