Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that Centre’s three farm laws are an attack on 40 per cent of India’s population and that “they all will become unemployed” if the laws are implemented.
Addressing a farmers’ mahapanchayat in Pilibanga town of Rajasthan’s Hanumangarh district on Friday, on the first of his two-day visit to the state, Rahul also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi “threatens farmers but can’t stand up to China.”
“Someone says the biggest business in Hindustan is cell-phone, someone says it is airplanes, someone says it is transport. But the reality is that the biggest business in Hindustan is that of agriculture. It is the biggest business in the world. Crores get food through this business,” Rahul said.
On the dais, flanking his chair were Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and party state president Govind Singh Dotasra. Also present on the stage were party’s Rajasthan in-charge Ajay Maken, and former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot, among others. While Pilot didn’t speak at the first rally in Hanumangarh, he addressed farmers at the second rally in Sri Ganganagar.
“Farmers and agriculture business protect the nation’s soul. A single person isn’t running this business. Forty per cent of India’s public runs this business: farmers, labourers, small shopkeepers, businessmen, middlemen. And since Independence, the Congress party has tried to not let this business go into one person’s hand. For example, there is Amul company. Congress brought it; it is the company of lakhs of farmers. They deliver milk across the country. So our aim has been to not let one person monopolise it,” he said.
Speaking on Centre’s three farm laws, he said that first law “is a law to end mandis,” while the second law “is to end Essential Commodities Act and start hoarding” while the third law is “to snatch justice from a farmer’s hands.”
At his second rally in Padampur in Sri Ganganagar, he said, “Understand this, Narendra Modi wants to shift this business of 40 per cent people into the hands of two people, that’s why three laws have been made.” The two border districts were chosen for their proximity to Punjab and Haryana: Ganganagar borders Punjab while Hanumangarh borders Haryana.
“One company sells grains for the entire nation. One company sells fruits and vegetables of the entire nation. I want to ask you, if one company sells grains, fruits and vegetables of the entire nation, then what will happen to the fruit and vegetables vendors, and those who sell grains? What will happen to small businessmen? Brothers and sisters, all of them will become unemployed,” he said in Hanumangarh.
“So understand this, it is not an attack on farmers, it is an attack on 40 per cent people of India. Farmers are aware, hence they realised it first. And farmers are standing at the forefront and have shone a light in darkness, because they can see the future. If these three laws are implemented, kissan toh gaya, uski zameen gayi (farmer is gone, his land is gone) and so will a small shopkeeper, businessman, labourer. Forty per cent of people in India will become unemployed.”
“Narendra Modi says he has done this for farmers. If it is indeed so, why are farmers across the country unhappy. Why are lakhs of farmers standing on Delhi’s borders? Why were 200 farmers martyred? So he didn’t do this for farmers, or for small shopkeepers, or labourers,” he said.
Rahul said that the first attack on the farmers, small shopkeepers etc. was demonetisation, followed by GST and then coronavirus. He said that through his decisions “Narendra Modi wants to clear the way for his friends” and demanded that the PM repeal the laws first before talking to farmers.
Rahul also said that “China snatched thousands of kilometres from India and martyred our jawans. And yesterday the Defence Minister entered the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and said that an agreement has been reached. The agreement is that the Narendra Modi government handed over the holy land of India to China.” He alleged that the Modi government ceded territory between fingers 3 and 4 by Pangong Lake to China.
“He won’t stand up to China but threatens farmers. This is the reality of Narendra Modi. He has a galat-fehmi (misreading) that he doesn’t realise the power of India’s farmers and labourers….even the British couldn’t stand before India’s farmers, who is Narendra Modi.” He said that eventually, the government will have to withdraw the laws.
Referring to his request in Lok Sabha for two minutes silence for farmers who have passed away, he said, “If someone passes away, they are honoured in Lok Sabha and a two minute silence is observed. But India’s Parliament did not observe two minutes silence for those 200 persons who were martyred. It is shameful that not a single BJP MP, not a single minister, stood for even half a minute.”