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Opinion

‘Anti-farmer’: Congress calls for withdrawal of laws

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A delegation of senior congressional leaders met with President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday to demand a special session of Parliament to repeal three farm reform laws, and former party chairman Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi over contentious legislation. .

Thousands of farmers, mainly from northern India, have camped on Delhi’s borders since Nov. 26 to protest laws that they say will weaken their bargaining power and leave them at the mercy of powerful agribusinesses.

Eleven opposition parties also issued a statement, calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s observation that opposition leaders were lying to and misleading farmers as “unfounded”. The statement also expressed solidarity with the protesting farmers.

The BJP rejected the charges and accused Congress of using farmers to politicize.

In the afternoon, Gandhi; leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad; and party leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury; he met Kovind and handed him a memorandum signed by 20 million farmers requesting the withdrawal of the three laws.

“We told the president that the new farm laws are against farmers. Farmers and workers will suffer because of this, ”Gandhi said after the meeting. “I want to tell the Prime Minister that the farmers will not return home until the laws are repealed. The government should convene a joint session of Parliament and repeal them, ”he added.

During the march to Rashtrapati Bhavan, Delhi police detained Congress Secretary General Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other leaders and took them to the Mandir Marg police station for violating prohibition orders after they conducted a sit-in in front of to the party office at 24 Akbar Road. Rahul Gandhi, Azad and Chowhury were allowed to continue.

Three states governed by Congress, Punjab, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, passed bills that circumvent core laws that allow agribusinesses to trade with minimal regulation, allow traders to store large quantities of food products for economies of scale, and establish new contract farming rules. .

Gandhi said that all opposition parties sympathized with the farmers and claimed that Modi wanted to transfer the wealth of ordinary people to crony capitalists. “Anyone who tries to oppose him will be called a terrorist, whether they are farmers, laborers, and even if [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief] Mohan Bhagwat opposes him, he too will be called a terrorist. Anyone who tries to take power away will be branded as anti-national, “he said.

He also attacked the authorities for blocking a protest march by congressional leaders towards Rashtrapati Bhavan. “Democracy … what country are you talking about? There is no democracy in India. It is in your imagination but not in reality,” he told reporters. In the memo, Congress claimed that 44 farmers lost their lives in the ongoing protests .

The BJP responded. “The country has not forgotten what happened during the Emergency days. Democracy has flourished during the term of Prime Minister Modi, ”said the Union Minister of State for Agriculture, Kailash Choudhary.

His party colleague and Union environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, accused the Congress of misleading farmers. “Today it is clear that the Congress party is doing politics on behalf of farmers,” he added. Javadekar also played down Gandhi’s demands, saying that members of Congress obstruct Parliament when it is in session and do not participate in debates.

The joint opposition statement was signed by Rahul Gandhi, the head of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Sharad Pawar, Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the general secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI) D Raja, Farooq Abdullah from the People’s Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), Samajwadi Party Leader (SP) Akhilesh Yadav, TR Baalu ​​from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Rashtriya Leader Janata Dal (RJD) Tejashwi Yadav, Manoj Bhattacharya from the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Debabrata Biswas from the All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) and Dipankar Bhattacharya from the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).

“We register our vigorous protest against Prime Minister Modi’s baseless accusations, accusing opposition parties of ‘repeatedly lying’ to farmers about the new agricultural laws and using them for their policies. The Prime Minister’s accusations are a complete parody of the truth, ”the statement read.

He referred to a speech by Modi to farmers in Madhya Pradesh on December 18, when the prime minister had alleged that opposition parties were misleading farmers about laws that would benefit agriculture.

Gandhi condemned the arrest of the other congressional leaders by the police.

“It is an assault on the idea of ​​India. The government is preventing our MPs from moving out of our office. PM must realize there is a limit to this, ”Gandhi said. “China is sitting on the border and has taken thousands of kilometers from our land. But why doesn’t the prime minister speak about it? Why is it quiet? It is weakening the country and external forces see it as an opportunity. The country is on a dangerous path and it is going to suffer, “he said.

Priyanka Gandhi said the government was not ready to listen to farmers. “It is a sin to call farmers anti-national. If the government qualifies the farmers’ protest as sedition, it is a sin, ”he told reporters.

But the Union Minister of State Choudhary said the new laws were good for farmers. “Rahul Gandhi doesn’t want the turmoil to stop. The congressional cadres will not stop agitating, but the farmers will. We are interacting with farmers while Congress and other political parties incite them, ”he said.

Hindustan Times

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