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India parties battle for key farm vote with debt relief

Ahead of general election, ruling BJP under heat as opposition gains momentum

Indian National Congress President Rahul Gandhi, left, is proving a threat to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.    © Reuters

NEW DELHI -- After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party took a drubbing in some local elections recently, it is coming under intense pressure to grant farmers debt relief ahead of general elections due by May in which the government hopes to win a second five-year term.

"It's done! Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh have waived farm loans," tweeted Indian National Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Dec. 19. Triumphant after victories in state elections, the opposition leader added, "We asked for 10 days. We did it in two."

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