Ambikapur, Feb 13 (PTI) Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said if the INDIA alliance comes to power, it will provide legal guarantees to Minimum Support Price as he slammed the Central government for using tear gas against protesting farmers and lodging them in jails for their just demand.
He also indicated that implementing suggestions of the Swaminathan Committee could be included in the poll manifesto.
Addressing a public meeting as a part of his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Ambikapur, the headquarters of Chhattisgarh's Surguja district, Gandhi alleged Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using GST and demonetisation as weapons to ruin small businessmen in the country.
Gandhi's attack on the Centre coincided with farmers trying to break past barricades set up by the Haryana Police at two border points to stop them from heading to New Delhi. Police fired tear gas shells.
Notably, a law on minimum support price for crops and loan waivers are among the prominent demands raised by Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha spearheading the 'Delhi Chalo' agitation.
"Today, farmers are heading towards Delhi but they are being stopped, tear gas shells are being used on them, and they are being lodged in jails. They are just demanding that they should get a better return for their hard work and farm produce," Gandhi said.
He said the BJP government at the Centre announced Bharat Ratna for MS Swaminathan who dedicated his life to agriculture and farmers, but it is not ready to implement his suggestions.
"Swaminathan ji has clearly said in his report that farmers should get the legal right to MSP. But the BJP government has not been doing this. If the INDIA alliance comes to power at the Centre, our government will provide legal guarantees to MSP for farmers," Gandhi said.
He said the INDIA alliance will honour all the recommendations in the Swaminathan report after forming a government.
"This is our beginning. Our manifesto is being prepared. We are going to work for farmers and labourers," the Congress leader said.
He alleged Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using GST and demonetisation as a dual weapon to ruin small traders and businessmen.
"Two types of injustice are taking place in the country. One is economic injustice and the other is social injustice. Unemployment is spreading due to economic injustice. Big billionaires are selling Chinese goods in India.
"If these products were made in India, local youth would have got jobs, but Narendra Modi ji destroyed small traders with demonetisation and GST," Gandhi alleged.
He said jobs are generated by small traders and industrialists operating small factories.
"Narendra Modi ji did two experiments - GST and demonetisation. If you ask any other businessman, except Adani and Ambani, they will tell you that demonetisation and GST ruined them. Inflation is also increasing," the former Congress chief said.
Reiterating his demand for conducting a caste census, Gandhi said the survey would be an "economic and social X-ray of the country and it will be a revolutionary step for social justice".
He claimed Dalits, backward classes and tribals constitute 73 per cent of the population in India, but their participation in running big companies, media, private hospitals and private universities is zero.
"These groups which form 73 per cent of the population are mostly working as MNREGA and contractual workers," he added.
The Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra arrived in Chhattisgarh from neighbouring Odisha on February 8. The Yatra has passed through Raigarh, Sakti, and Korba districts before embarking on the onward journey in Surguja district on Tuesday. PTI TKP NSK