UPA won't hesitate for another farm loan waiver: Pilot

Ghata Gaon (Haryana), Feb 10 (IANS) Pitching for farmers ahead of state assembly polls this year and 2014 general elections, Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot Sunday said the UPA government would not hesitate to bring another loan waiver for them, if needed.

Addressing a farmers' rally in this village in Gurgaon district to mark the birth anniversary of his father and former union minister Rajesh Pilot, Sachin Pilot said the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, in its first term, waived loans of Rs.70,000 crore concerning small farmers.

"If there is a need (for another loan waiver), we will not hesitate," he said.

The loan waiver benefited the Congress in the 2009 general elections.

The minister said the government was cautioned against the loan waiver by those who did not know the reality.

"They said: 'What are you doing?' Farmers will be spoilt. They do not know the reality. If the farmer has the burden of loan, he does not get sleep," he said.

The rally was preceded by unveiling of Rajesh Pilot's statue near the venue in Ghata Gaon village in Gurgaon by Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

He also named a road adjoining the statue after Rajesh Pilot.

The rally, attended by young Congress leaders including MP Deepender Singh Hooda and Minister of State for Defence Jitendera Singh, saw repeated references to the leadership of the party's newly-appointed vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

Rao Inderjit Singh, the Congress MP from Gurgaon, made a veiled reference to sycophancy in the party and said he remembered Rajesh Pilot's speech at All India Congress Committee's Kolkota session for speaking out against it.

Rajesh Pilot, who was a prominent farmers' leader of the Congress and represented Bharatpur and Dausa in the Lok Sabha, died in a road accident in 2000.

Rao Inderjit Singh said young leaders such as Sachin Pilot were keen to take the country on the path of faster development.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who spoke after Sachin Pilot, had to face some odd moments as sections of crowd started dispersing soon after he took the mike.

Sachin Pilot stood up to urge the gathering to carefully listen to the chief minister. Hooda too urged the gathering to sit down.

In his speech, Bhupinder Singh Hooda hailed Rajesh Pilot as a leader who was "true friend of farmers" and was fearless in his expression.

He said Sachin Pilot was a reflection of his father.

"When Sachin Pilot was speaking, it appeared the soul of Rajesh Pilot was speaking," Hooda said.

Referring to Rahul Gandhi and other young leaders of the Congress, Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the country's future was safe in their hands.

In his speech, Sachin Pilot, minister of state (independent charge) Corporate Affairs, said it was important to elect a leader capable of keeping all communities united.

The 35-year-old minister said young leaders will be evaluated for the opportunities they create for youth and the work they do for farmers.

The MP from Ajmer said many children of farmers were now occupying high positions in the government and politics according to wishes of his late father.

He said Rahul Gandhi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had provided the young MPs an opportunity to work in the front ranks of the government.

Deepender Singh Hooda, an MP from Rohtak, said the decision to allow foreign direct investment in retail was in the interest of farmers.

"BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) was concerned about middlemen," he said.

Praising Sachin Pilot and calling him his elder brother, Deepender Singh Hooda said when the young leader gets up in parliament, "everybody wants to know what he will speak".

Rama Pilot, mother of Sachin Pilot, said her son would continue to serve the people in the footsteps of her husband and said their support to her family was a constant source of strength.

Among those present were Congress legislators from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan.

Congress workers from Rajasthan told IANS that many supporters of Sachin Pilot had travelled from the state to take part in the function.

They said the Gujjar community and farmers in Gurgaon and its adjoining areas wanted to honour Rajesh Pilot for the work he had done for them.

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