"Income of farmers just Rs 27 per day, average debt Rs 27,000": Manmohan Singh

"Citizens have a last chance to save democracy and the Constitution," says the former PM in a letter to Punjab voters, calling on them to choose development and inclusive progress

Manmohan Singh appeals to voters to give love, peace and fraternity a chance in India (photo: PTI)
Manmohan Singh appeals to voters to give love, peace and fraternity a chance in India (photo: PTI)

NH Political Bureau

Former prime minister and veteran Congress leader Manmohan Singh in a letter dated 27 May has appealed to the citizens of Punjab to vote for development and for inclusive progress in the last phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

The former prime minister said that citizens now have the final chance to protect democracy and the Constitution from the repeated assaults of a despotic regime that is trying to unleash a dictatorship in India.

Manmohan Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to double the income of our farmers by 2022; instead, his policies in the last 10 years have eroded the earnings of peasants.

'The national average income of farmers is a meagre Rs 27 per day, while an average debt per farmer is Rs 27,000 (NSSO),' writes the former PM, who also famously held a finance minister's portfolio under Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao.

'High cost of input including fuel and fertilisers, coupled with GST on at least 35 farm-related equipment and whimsical decision making in farm export and import has destroyed the savings of our farm households and left them on the margins of our society,' he continues.

Singh also notes in the letter that as many as 750 farmers, mostly from Punjab, were martyred while incessantly waiting at the Delhi borders for months to ensure the repeal of the three farm laws imposed on them with no consultation.

'In the past ten years, the BJP government has left no stone unturned in castigating Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiyat,' Singh writes.

As if the lathis and the rubber bullets were not enough, none less than the Prime Minister verbally assaulted our farmers by calling them 'andolanjeevis' and 'parjeevi' (parasites) on the floor of the Parliament.
Manmohan Singh

In contrast to the BJP's policies, the Congress has in its manifesto promised five guarantees of Kisan Nyay if the INDIA bloc is voted to power.

'Only Congress can ensure a growth-oriented progressive future, where democracy and the Constitution shall be safeguarded,' writes Manmohan Singh.

'Punjab and Punjabis are warriors. We are known for our spirit of sacrifice. Our indomitable courage and innate belief in the Democratic ethos of inclusiveness, harmony, amity, and brotherhood can protect our great nation,' he says in the letter.

In the last 10 years, he adds, the nation's economy has witnessed unimaginable turmoil, with demonetisation, a flawed GST regime and the painful mismanagement of the Covid-19 lockdown having resulted in a miserable situation, where an expectation of a 6–7 per cent GDP growth has become the new normal.

'Average GDP growth under the BJP government has plunged below 6 per cent, while during Congress–UPA rule, it was about 8 per cent (New Series). Unemployment and inflation have greatly widened inequality, which is now at a 100-year high,' writes Manmohan Singh.

The Congress-UPA had increased the purchasing power of people, while the BJP's misrule has resulted in the depletion of household savings to a historic 47-year low.
Rural wages have witnessed a systematic fall, and wage disparity has led to widespread distress.

The former MP continues, "Our youth are the most neglected section of society under the present dispensation. There are 30 lakh government vacancies. Innumerable paper leaks have cast a dark shadow on their future, even as they are forced to wait for recruitment for years.'

'The Yuva Nyay guarantees of the Congress party is a course correction in this regard. The right to apprenticeship proposed by us will cross the barrier between learning, training and employment,' he adds.

Manmohan Singh also notes the ill-conceived Agnipath/Agniveer scheme that the BJP government imposed on the armed forces, and writes that those who trained in the hope of confirmed recruitment per the regular norms of the army were woefully betrayed by the 'outgoing regime'.

'The BJP thinks that the value of patriotism, bravery and service is only four years. This shows their fake nationalism,' he writes.

Slamming the BJP government, Singh writes:

Modi-ji has indulged in the most vicious form of hate speeches, which are purely divisive in nature. Modi-ji is the first prime minister to lower the dignity of public discourse, and thereby the gravity of the office of the prime minister.

In his letter, Manmohan Singh appealed to voters to 'give love, peace, fraternity and harmony a chance in India'.

The full text of his letter may be read below:

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