PURI: BJP chief Amit Shah on Sunday claimed that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has realised that the grand old party is heading for a defeat in the upcoming polls with the announcement of a farmers' income support initiative announced in the interim Budget.
He also sought to project the BJP as the champion of tribals, saying the Narendra Modi government has raised budgetary allocation for their welfare to Rs 50,000 crore from Rs 30,700 crore made during the Congress-led UPA dispensation.
Addressing the valedictory session of the national convention of the BJP's ST Morcha in this pilgrim town, Shah made a scathing attack on the Congress, dubbing it "anti-tribal, anti-farmer, anti-fishermen and anti-Dalit".
The 'Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi' (PM-KISAN) initiative will pump in Rs 7.5 lakh crore in 10 years for farmers, much higher than the Rs 57,000 crore farm loan waiver during the UPA rule, the BJP chief said.
"When all members in Parliament cheered the announcement of PM-KISAN by thumping the desks, Rahul Gandhi looked extremely unhappy. Perhaps, he felt that the possibility of his party's victory in polls ended with this farmer assistance announcement," Shah said.
He said the Congress president could have shown some signs of happiness as the measure is going to benefit a large number of poor farmers.
To woo distressed farmers ahead of the general elections, the Centre announced the direct income support of Rs 6,000 per year to those holding cultivable land up to two hectare.
The Centre had said it would benefit 12 crore farmers and cost the exchequer Rs 75,000 crore annually.
During its ten-year rule, the Congress-led UPA had spent only Rs 57,000 crore by waiving farm loans which benefitted three crore peasants, while more than 12 crore farmers will benefit from the PM-KISAN initiative, the BJP chief claimed.
"With an annual allocation of Rs 75,000 crore, a total of Rs 7.5 lakh crore will be provided for the benefit of farmers during the next ten years. It is much higher than the amount provided during the UPA rule," Shah said.
However, Rahul Gandhi is not capable of understanding the importance of this scheme as he is "ignorant of agriculture and the agony of farmers", he alleged.
"Rahul Baba does not even know what are rabi and kharif crops." It is only the BJP which is capable of providing Rs 3,000 to labourers and making income up to Rs 5 lakh free from income tax, he said.
Noting that financial assistance to the farmers would be through direct benefit transfer (DBT), Shah alleged that during Congress-led UPA rule, DBT was "dealer-broker-transfer" scheme.
Referring to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's comment that only 15 paise of every rupee reached the beneficiaries, he said the BJP-led government has ensured that the entire amount reaches them in a transparent manner.
Accusing the UPA government of having neglected the tribal people all along, he said a separate ministry for tribal affairs was formed for the first time by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to ensure speedy development of these people.
Stating that the Modi government has for the first time set up fisheries ministry for the benefit of the fishing community, Shah said the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of kendu leaves was hiked from Rs 10 to Rs 49 per bundle.
Slamming the Congress over education of tribal children, Shah said only 166 model schools had been set up till the BJP came to power at the Centre.
The number of such schools has increased to 288 since 2014, he said. Similarly, the BJP-led government has floated the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) with huge funds for the development and welfare of a large number of tribal people living in mineral-rich areas in the country, eh said, adding the funds under the DMF are being utilised by various states where mining activities are affecting the people and environment.
Shah's Odisha visit for the ST Morcha rally is seen as an exercise to woo the tribals, who constitute around one fourth of Odisha's population, ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha and state Assembly elections likely to be held together.
This was the BJP chief's second visit to the state in five days. He had addressed a rally at Salepur in Cuttack district on January 29.
The BJP's love and respect for tribals is evident from the fact that the party has the maximum number of tribal MPs in the Lok Sabha.
Of the 32 tribal members in the Lok Sabha, 28 belong to the BJP, he said. Similarly, there are four BJP members belonging to Scheduled Tribes (ST) in Rajya Sabha, Shah said.
Asserting that all the 129 schemes launched by Modi government are aimed at benefitting tribals, farmers, Dalits and the poor, Shah said the need of the hour is to ensure the BJP's victory in the upcoming polls as only the country's development and welfare of all sections of the society can be brought in under Modi's leadership.