Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday promised free health treatment up to Rs 10 lakh for the poor under an existing scheme in Chhattisgarh if his party retains power in the assembly polls next month.
Addressing election rallies in the Rajnandgaon district headquarters and Kawardha (the headquarters of Kabirdham district), Mr Gandhi also said agricultural landless labourers (in rural areas) will be given Rs 10,000 per year in place of the existing Rs 7,000.
In a swipe at BJP, he said the “amount of money they give to Adani, we will give the same to labourers, farmers and small traders of Chhattisgarh”.
He reiterated the Congress’ commitment to conduct a caste census in the country if the party is voted to power at the Centre.
He said an international airport will be set up in Chhattisgarh to help farmers export their produce after the Congress forms government at the Centre.
“Our Guarantee: Under Dr Khubchand Baghel Health Assistance Scheme, the poor will get free treatment facilities up to Rs 10 lakh in place of the existing Rs 5 lakh, while others will get up to Rs 5 lakh in place of the existing Rs 50,000 (if Congress retains power in the state),” Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel wrote on his ‘X’ handle after Gandhi’s address at Rajnandgaon.
Mr Gandhi said the Congress government is for the poor, labourers, farmers, backward classes, tribals and Dalits and it listens to the “voice of their hearts”.
“You need not speak, we can hear the voice of your hearts. This morning, Baghel ji and I did some work for farmers and labourers and spoke to them. They told us that what the Congress government has done for them in five years, no other government has done ever,” he said.
Look at the way the Congress party works, the Congress leader said.
Earlier in the day, Mr Gandhi helped some cultivators at a village near Raipur in harvesting paddy and said the pro-farmer “model” of his party’s government in Chhattisgarh will be replicated across India.
He highlighted five schemes of the Congress government in Chhattisgarh, including loan waiver and input subsidy, as best works in the interest of farmers.
He visited Kathiya village near the state capital Raipur in the morning where he interacted with farmers and labourers and helped them in harvesting paddy, a party functionary here said.
Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Deputy CM T S Singh Deo accompanied Mr Gandhi.
“During our interaction with farmers and labourers, they told us that Rs 7,000 (the amount given under the Rajiv Gandhi Bhoomihin Kisan Nyay Yojna) is less. We discussed in the car and decided that it would now be Rs 10,000,” Gandhi said in Rajnandgaon.
The day Congress comes to power in Delhi, work on caste census will be started from the same day, he said.
“Similarly, the Congress will start (conducting) the caste census from the first day in Chhattisgarh after the formation of the government. It has started in Karnataka and Rajasthan. We will do it in Madhya Pradesh (if the party comes to power in the BJP-ruled state).
“After the caste census, a new chapter of the backward people, Dalits and tribals will be written. Historic works will be started for their progress and development,” Mr Gandhi added.
He said Congress works for the poor, labourers, farmers, backward classes, tribals and Dalits, whereas the BJP-led Centre works for billionaires like Adani.
“Whatever Modi ji and BJP see, they privatise it. They privatise hospitals, schools, and colleges and hand them over to billionaires. We don’t want such a country (where everything is privatised). The work of the government is to protect the poor, and run schools, colleges, universities and hospitals”, he said in Kawardha.
Accusing the BJP-led Centre of waiving loans of select industrialists, Gandhi said, “The money Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives to Adani, we will give the same to labourers, farmers and small traders of Chhattisgarh”.
He reiterated if Congress retains power in Chhattisgarh, free education will be provided in government institutions to students from “KG (kindergarten) to PG (post-graduation)”.
“As of now, we don’t have a government in Delhi (Centre) so we will work in Chhattisgarh. You see what happens if we get elected in Delhi. They have made it fun.
“The country belongs to farmers, labourers, and small traders. It does not have only two to three persons or Adani. You take it on writing from me that I will give as much money to you as they (BJP) give to them (industrialists),” he said.
Referring to his discussion with Baghel, Gandhi said he told the chief minister to think big. “Chhattisgarh is known as the paddy bowl and it should also become a hub of vegetables and other produce. I told Baghel ji the way he had spread a network of English medium schools, he should also spread a web of food processing units in every district,” he said.
Mr Gandhi also said that after coming to power at the Centre, the Congress government will open two to three international airports.
“When that happens, your state (Chhattisgarh) will not only be a paddy bowl of India but of the entire world. You will be able to export vegetables to America, Dubai and England.. therefore I tell you to learn English too because it will be required when you go to the USA. In future when your children will send their farm produce abroad, the English language will help them,” he added.
Mr Gandhi alleged the BJP spreads hatred and indulges in making one religion fight with another and one caste with the other “but Congress opens shop of love in the market of hate”.
Rajnandgaon and Kawardha are among the 20 assembly constituencies that will go to polls in the first phase of two-phase elections on November 7. The rest 90 seats will see voting on November 17.
Congress has fielded its sitting MLA and minister Mohammad Akbar from Kawardha and its senior OBC leader Girish Dewangan from Rajnandgaon.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)