Monday, May 20, 2019

Practice what you preach, Mr. Rahul Gandhi

05 May 2018

Rahul Gandhi is advising PM Modi to follow Basavanna's profound Vachana, 'Nudidante nade’(practice what you preach). But has he been following the adage himself? 

Karnataka is going to the polls on 12th May 2018. Rahul Gandhi has begun campaigning on a full scale. The President of the Congress party, clad in his trademark white kurta, pulls up the sleeves in a dramatic fashion while he counts Karnataka government’s limited achievements. Though, he seems to have overcome his fear of public speaking, his content still lacks coherence or rational stream of thought.

While speaking in Kalgi, Kalburgi, he mentions ‘Nudidante nade’—practice what you preach—a Vachana by Basavanna – a 12th-century philosopher and poet. However, such a profound thought misses its mark when Rahul Gandhi, repeats it on cue, ignoring the facts about his party’s dismal record while they were in power at the Centre as well as when they are in power in Karnataka.

A recurrent theme of Rahul Gandhi’s election speeches is farmer loan waiver.  He repeatedly mentions the Rs 8,000 crore farm loan waived off by the Siddarmaiah government in 2017 and poses questions like - What Modi government at the centre has done for farmers in Karnataka. The air of an heir is apparent with the way he brandishes loan waiver as a messiah like act by the Congress on poor farmers.

In his characteristic style of announcing various doles out his government in the state has extended in an election year, reeks of the entitlement the Gandhi family scion has inherited. However, it is only pertinent to point that it is the 60 years of Congress rule and 10 years of UPA rule that was marred with policy paralysis, crippled governance and lack of foresight that has made farming a low incentive sector and loan waivers an unfortunate reality of today’s India. But can loan waivers be considered a legitimate policy driven move is still questionable.

Moreover, before raising allegations of Modi government not contributing towards loan waiver in Karnataka, he should know that the Central government as a policy has not waived off loans for any state. Though BJP ruled states have waived off loans but the move has been made on state’s own discretion, considering farmers’ needs and state finances. For instance, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh waived off Rs. 30,000 crore and Rs. 36,000 crore worth farm loans respectively in 2017, an amount four times higher than Karnataka government’s loan waiver.

But as pointed above, waving off farm loans is only a temporary measure. A holistic approach to agriculture is the need of hour, which the previous Congress governments failed to take. Rahul Gandhi is only following the Congress scheme of things by claiming farm loan waiver as the shining achievement of Karnataka state government.  

On the contrary, the Modi government has followed a “Beej se Bazaar” model to enhance farmers’ income and improve agricultural productivity, keeping in mind long term dividends. The many schemes of Modi government at every stage of farming aim to resolve the various structural constraints in agricultural sector. From the stage of selection of seeds to establishing market linkages, every aspect of farming process is being taken care of. As a matter of fact, Central government’s Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana has benefitted more than 14 lakh farmers in Karnataka.

It’s a healthy exercise to have a sound debate between political parties, catering to different ideologies, before election. But Rahul Gandhi, due to deliberate ignorance or political reasons, never mentions about the initiatives which the Central government has rolled out for the overall development of different states. Rahul Gandhi never mentioned in his speeches about the unused funds in the district mineral foundations that was meant for the development of people in the mining areas of Karnataka. Out of a total of Rs. 900 crore only 45 lakh rupees have been spent by the Congress state government. Rahul Gandhi never mentioned about the desiltation of reservoirs, a dire need for states practicing dryland agriculture, in Karnataka, which never took place on a sustained scale under Siddarmaiah government, while BJP led Maharashtra government made it happen, soon after assuming power in 2014.

The worsening of law & order situation in Karnataka and extremely polluted lakes of Bengaluru is never a cause of concern for Rahul Gandhi, rather he boasts about the IT infrastructure in Bengaluru, which he should know was not built by the Congress government, but by the unwavering commitment and will of the people of Karnataka. Mr. Gandhi criticises Modi government for not working for scheduled castes or tribes. But, Karnataka records almost 30 percent of all cases registered under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act). Rahul Gandhi also talks about the secondary treatment meted out to the state of Karnataka by the Modi government. But, the President of the Congress party fails to mention in his speeches that out of Rs. 30,357 crore allotted to Karnataka as central assistance for schemes running up till 2022, Rs. 8,316 crore has already been released in less than 4 years.

Here is a humble suggestion to Mr. Rahul Gandhi:  Please bring some fresh perspective in the public domain and talk about issues that matter, rather than indulging in vague rhetorical and scripted speeches. It would provide more clarity to the voters, even if they are voting your party out repeatedly in various parts of the country. We understand that rhetoric is indispensable in political speeches, but there should be a balance between facts and rhetoric. Though the Congress president alleges that PM Modi indulges in rhetoric, a tad too much and does not talk of facts, he himself lacks perspective or facts while making political claims. Therefore, it would be advisable if Mr. Gandhi practices what he preaches, as taught by Basavanna, who Rahul Gandhi and his party discovered only recently.