Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu Tuesday termed the Gujarat government's move to announce complete waiver of Rs 625 crore energy bill dues as a mere "lollipop". Calling the Modi-led dispensation at the Centre as the "government of the rich", he also raised question marks over demonetisation and Rafale deal. Sidhu was campaigning at Jasdan in Rajkot district of Gujarat, where a by poll is due to be held on December 20.
The Congress has fielded Avsar Nakiya against BJP's Kunvarji Bavaliya. Terming the BJP as "anti-farmer", he lauded Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for the farm loan waivers in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. "Listen to Narendra Modi and (Gujarat chief minister Vijay) Rupani, these farmers are kings...but you have made them beggars. When you stare at defeat, you talk about Rs 650 crore electricity waiver. You are giving a lollipop, with nothing inside the wrapper," he said during the rally.
The Vijay Rupani-led BJP government in Gujarat Tuesday announced a complete waiver of Rs 625 crore in unpaid electricity bills, under its one-time settlement scheme for over 6 lakh people living in rural parts of the state. "Narendra Modi, your party has been in the government (in Gujarat) for the last 22 years, but you never waived any loans. On the other hand, when the Congress government was formed in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, loans were waived in 22 minutes," he said.
The newly-formed Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Monday announced farm loan waivers, fulfilling a promise made by the party ahead of the Assembly polls. "Congress government waived farm loan, but the BJP says that such a move will adversely affect the economy. Then why do you waive loans of large corporate entities? The BJP government is anti-poor, anti-village and anti-farmer, and the people of Jasdan will show it the way out.
"What is important is not who wins, but your votes will determine that when the fight is between truth and lies, the truth will always win," Sidhu said. The cricketer-turned-politician asked Rupani if he favoured farmers or the rich. "When a farmer fails to pay Rs 5 lakh loan, you seize his land, throw him into the jail...What do you do when Ambani does not give Rs 45,000 crore?" he asked.
Referring to a report which had claimed that the turnover of BJP chief Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's firm grew exponentially after the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014, Sidhu said, "Look at Amit Shah's son. As soon as the BJP came to power, his company's turnover increased to Rs 80 crore. This is the government of the rich," he said. Calling demonetisation a "scam," Sidhu said it was meant to convert black money into "purple" (referring to the new purple-pink notes).
He claimed that hundreds of crores were deposited into the cooperative banks in Ahmedabad and Rajkot within five days of demonetisation. "If there was black money, how did 99.7 per cent money went back to the banks (post-demonetisation)?" he asked. On the Rafale deal, Sidhu said a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the Rafale fighter jet deal will put Modi "in the dock". "You are lying, and lying on all sides.
The Supreme Court is right, but give it proof. If you cannot give it proof, then Rahul Gandhi will give the proof," he said. He also targeted BJP candidate Kunvarji Bavaliya for switching over to the saffron party from Congress. Bavaliya had won Jasdan constituency as Congress candidate in 2017 Assembly elections but joined the BJP, which necessitated the by-election.
(With inputs from agencies.)