Thakurnagar (West Bengal), Feb 2 : Attacking the Congress' loan waiver policy as a farce, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said "a historic step has been taken for the welfare of farmers, labourers and youths in the country, referring to the Union Budget for 2019-20.
"For the first time in the country, massive initiatives were announced for the welfare of farmers and labourers in yesterday's budget.
"The schemes announced yesterday will directly benefit more than 12 crore farmer families and 30-40 crore labourers and more than three crore families under the middle income group," he said a day after Piyush Goyal presented the Interim Budget in Parliament on Friday.
He noted that Rs 75,000 crore has been allotted under the 'Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sammaan Nidhi Yojana' scheme for the welfare of farmers.
Addressing a public rally here, Modi came down heavily on the agricultural policies in the Congress-ruled states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka and claimed that the farmers were being deprived after the pre-poll promises of farm loan waivers.
"You might have seen that in some states votes were sought from the farmers with the promise of waiving farm loans.
But they (the new Congress government) are waiving loans of peasants who have never taken any loan.
"They had promised to waive loans of up to Rs 2.5 lakhs.
But only loans worth Rs 13 were waived. This is the story of Madhya Pradesh," Modi said in Thakurnagar, 67 kilometre from Kolkata, and close to the Bangladesh border.
The Prime Minister said in Rajasthan, the Congress has already washed its hands off its own promises.
"They did not know earlier that the loan waivers would cost the exchequer such astronomical amounts of money."
Turning to Karnataka, which has a coalition government of Janata Dal (Secular) and the Congress with JD-S's H.D.
Kumaraswamy as the Chief Minister, Modi said farmers unable to repay their loans are being hunted down by the police.
"Such are the agricultural and peasant policies of Congress.
These policies are being supported by the Chief Minister of Bengal," he said, taking a broad swipe at Mamata Banerjee.
Attacking the "politics of loan waivers", Modi said peasants have not benefited from it.
"In our country, there have been repeated shameless attempts to hoodwink peasants through the politics of loan waivers.
Parties with vested interests have time and again taken the advantage of peasants' simplicity.
"Every 10-12 years, with elections around the corner, these selfish parties would declare one-time waiver of loans, which did not benefit the peasants.
"Only a handful of farmers were benefited by this practice and most of the small farmers were kept waiting.
Even the peasants who did benefit from it, again got into debt trap after a few years," he added.