With Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi keeping up his advocacy of farmers’ issues in Parliament, the government on Thursday fielded farmer’s son-turned-Minister Rajnath Singh to challenge the perception that the government is anti-farmer.
Making his fourth intervention in the second part of the budget session, Mr. Gandhi sought an explanation from the government for cancellation of permission for a food park in his parliamentary constituency, Amethi.
Referring to a stump speech of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Amethi last year ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Mr. Gandhi admitted that he had been impressed when the then Gujarat Chief Minister publicly said he did not believe in vendetta politics and was an advocate of the politics for change.
“However, now we find that permission for the food park has been cancelled,” Mr. Gandhi said, unfazed by the heckling from the ruling benches. As is his wont, he cited a conversation with a farmer who wanted to know how a packet of potato chips made with one potato could be priced at Rs. 10 when a kilo of the tuber sells for Rs. 2.
As BJP members threw jibes at him to first check the rates, he shot back: “Brother, I am not talking about the suit, I am speaking about potatoes. Don’t get worked up.”
As always, Mr. Gandhi got a prompt reply from the government with Mr. Singh saying, “I also lived in a village and was born in a farmer’s household.” He then ran into a spot of trouble as he quoted Mr. Gandhi incorrectly and had to retract.
As for the issue at hand, he said the UPA government had given in-principle approval for the Mega Food Park in Amethi in 2010. Steering clear of the delay under UPA’s watch, he assured Mr. Gandhi that the issue would be looked into, adding that the ruling party cannot develop the nation on its own. Later, the government’s floor managers suggested that the project did not take off because the company which was to develop it did not find it viable.