National

Rahul is the natural choice for PM : Moily

A M Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on December 31, 2018 Published on December 31, 2018

Mr. M. Veerappa Moily, former Chief Minister and Congress(I) leader of Karnataka, a southern Indian State.   -  THE HINDU

Former Karnataka chief minister and the chairman of Finance Standing Committee of Parliament Veerappa Moily believes that the Assembly election results in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are an indication that people have made up their mind to vote the Congress back in. Excerpts:

What will be the theme of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections?

It will be agriculture and farmers. During the 2014 campaigns, Narendra Modi said on the record that the first agenda of his government will be loan waiver for the farmers. After five years, he is in denial mode.

Congress gave ₹72,000 crore as loan waivers in 2008. Ten years have passed since then. Had Modi implemented the MS Swaminathan report in 2014 as a continuation of the one-time loan waiver provided by us, farmers’ problems would have been solved by now. The production should have increased. Farmers should have got a better Minimum Support Price (MSP). But by not doing anything for farmers, he proved that he has scant regard for agriculture. All irrigation and energy projects remain there where we left. Infrastructure development is in doldrums because loans are not available. They destroyed IL&FS that provided loans for building infrastructure. He is inaugurating projects created by us, and is building statues not institutions. Farmers have no benefit from these statues.

In Telangana, the TRS could make a comeback by direct transfer of farm subsidies. Will that help the BJP too if they announce such a measure?

No direct transfer of subsidies is going to help BJP now. We are in December. The elections will happen before the Rabi harvest and no damage control can be done now. We have come back in three States.

Farmers think that the Congress is coming back at the Centre too. In the three States, they decided that crops will be sold only after Congress comes back.

The Congress is coming back not because of any miracle, but by the conscious effort of the rural India. Farmers and agriculture workers think that the party should come back. The damage for the BJP is done.

What is the recipe before the Congress to address the rural economic situation?

The Congress has to implement the Swaminathan report. We will do it. The Centre filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that it cannot be implemented. MSP will have to be provided for farmers. Markets will have to be reorganised. Middlemen should be stopped. Farmers should get seeds, fertilizers and remuneration on time. Cooperatives will have to be strengthened and one-time loan waiver should be provided.

But the Congress doesn’t have an organisation that can match the BJP... Rahul Gandhi is struggling to strengthen the organisation. But we have been failing him.

We need to address the issues in organisation. People are angry against this government,So we will come back. But that is not enough. We need a strong organisation. We have excellent leaders at all levels.

There are no ‘accidental’ leaders in the Congress. All the leaders in the Congress are time-tested and dedicated. Rahul Gandhi matured in handling organisational and governance matters.

He is a fit person to take over the responsibility of Prime Minister. We are definitely crossing 200-250 seats.

I think there should not be any debate on the leadership at that time. He is a well-tested leader of the Congress. So when we cross 200 or 250, he will be the natural choice as Prime Minister. But we will take all Opposition parties into confidence.

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Published on December 31, 2018
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