Bhagalpur, April 20: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday charged the BJP-RSS combine and a handful of billionaires with posing a threat to democracy and the country's Constitution, to which "Dalits, tribals and the poor owe all that they have". Addressing an election rally at Bhagalpur, his first in Bihar, Gandhi also drew a contrast with the previous UPA government headed by his party, claiming the amount of debt written off under the Narendra Modi regime was “25 times the farmers' loans we had waived”.

“I would like to give you some startling statistics. The country has 22 individuals who own wealth that is equivalent to the holdings of 70 crore people. There are 70 crore people in the country who are surviving on less than Rs 100 a day," claimed Gandhi. Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Congress Leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra To Begin Poll Campaign in Uttar Pradesh on April 17.

Rahul Gandhi in Bihar

The former Congress president claimed that “Modi has waived debts, of not more than 25 people, which amounts to about Rs 16 lakh crore". "Do you realiSe it is 25 times the amount of farmers' loans we had waived? It may also be seen as equivalent to 25 years' outlay for MGNREGA," he said.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 (MGNREGA) is aimed at enhancing the livelihood security of households in rural areas of the country by providing at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year. Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Rahul Gandhi Announces ‘Pehli Naukri Pakki’ Scheme, Says ‘Congress Will Work for Unemployed Youth in Karnataka’.

The INDIA bloc, led by the Congress, is committed to "distributing the wealth among the poor people”, Gandhi said. He also said, if voted to power, the Congress would help the poor through schemes like 'Mahalaxmi' which proposes an annual dole of Rs one lakh, through direct cash transfer, to one female member of every poor family.

"The money will be remitted into the bank account of one person but will be utilised for the entire family", he said. Addressing the election rally, the Congress leader alleged, "Modi does not want the people to focus on the situation prevailing around them. He tries to distract you all through some means."

"In any part of the country, you can see youngsters idling away hours on their smartphones, glued to social media sites. The reason is India has turned into a centre of unemployment. Demonetisation and faulty implementation of GST has hit job creation," he said. Gandhi claimed that his party would tackle the problem of unemployment by guaranteeing a “right to apprenticeship” which would “generate trained manpower in the country, in the private sector as well as the public sector”. He also said the Congress would do away with the 'Agnipath' scheme of employment in the armed forces which provides for contractual jobs for four years, claiming that “the people of the country despise this system. There cannot be two different categories of soldiers."

Recalling the farmers' protests that "compelled Narendra Modi to withdraw the contentious farm bills", the Congress leader promised "waiver of farmers' loans and legal guarantee for minimum support price". Gandhi, who spoke for barely 15 minutes, said in his opening remark, "INDIA bloc is treating the elections as a fight to save democracy and the Constitution. All that the country's poor, Dalits and tribals have got, is because of the Constitution. But the Constitution is under threat, from the BJP-RSS combine and their favoured four or five billionaires."

"If they succeed in scrapping the Constitution, all that the poor and the downtrodden have, whatever progress they have made so far, will come to an end," the Congress leader alleged. He, however, mocked the BJP's claims that it will win more than 370 seats on its own and with allies achieve a 400-plus tally. "They make outlandish claims but let me tell you they are not going to cross 150 seats," Gandhi added.