Moga (Punjab), Oct 4 (IANS) Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Sunday kicked off a three-day ‘Kheti Bachao Yatra’ in Punjab with a vow to fight the ‘black’ farm laws and save the farmers from the clutches of big corporates to whom he alleged the central government had sold off the interests of the farming community.
Describing the Modi government as a ‘Kathputli’ (puppet) government, whose strings were in the hands of the corporates, Rahul gave a ‘guarantee’ to the farmers that the day the Congress comes to power at the Centre, these three ‘black laws’ will be scrapped and consigned to the waste basket.
Addressing a public rally at Badni Kalan in Moga district where he was joined by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, before taking off on a tractor rally through Moga and Ludhiana districts, Rahul lambasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “lying” to the people and misleading the nation for the past six years to serve the interests of two or three large corporate houses of his “billionaire friends”.
He cited the examples of demonetisation, GST and the debt and tax waiver of big industrialists amid Covid-19, while he alleged the Centre had not given a rupee’s aid to the poor and the farmers.
“This is about your land and your money” Rahul told the farmers, recalling the Land Acquisition Bill which he said the UPA government had amended to protect the farmers but the Modi government had scrapped, with the support of the Akalis, soon after taking over the country’s reins.
“The corporates want to take over the land and money of the farmers without giving anything in return and the Prime Minister was helping them in exchange of 24X7 media coverage in his favour,” said the Congress leader.
Extending his, and the Congress party’s, full support to the farmers, Rahul said he stood with the farmers in this fight for their survival and livelihood, which the Modi government was trying to destroy with these draconian laws.
“Together we will change these laws,” he told the farmers, supporting their fight for their rights.
Questioning the need to push these laws urgently in the times of Covid-19, and that too without any discussion in Parliament, he quipped, “If the farmers are happy with these legislations, as the government of India is claiming, then why are they agitating in Punjab and the rest of the country?”
The new laws, said Rahul, were aimed at eventually dismantling the MSP and the Food Corporation of Indis (FCI) procurement system, and would break the backbone of the farmers, just as the British had done to seize control of India.
The central government was also trying to break the farmers’ backbone to hand over the entire farming system to their industrialist friends, he warned, vowing not to let this happen at any cost.
“The Congress will stand with the farmers in their fight and will not move back an inch,” he vowed.
Pointing out that the farmers of Punjab and Haryana had given the nation its food security with the tried and tested system that stands on three pillars of MSP, food procurement and ‘mandis’, Rahul said while the system needed reforms and change there was no way the Congress would allow it to be destroyed.
Such a move would leave the farmers at the mercy of the corporates which will sound the death knell of the farming community, he added.
Rahul will be in the state for two more days and will enter Haryana on October 6.
Rahul said, “You are doing the right thing in opposing the farm laws if Congress comes in power it will scrap these black laws.”
“This is not Modi government but Adani-Ambani government and Congress party will support the farmers’ agitation in the country,” he said.
Rahul on Monday will be touring the state from Sangrur and will go to Sumana and Patiala.
Rahul, who postponed his Punjab programme by a day to visit the family of the Hathras victim, said India had been reduced to a nation where victims were facing criminal action while criminals were going scot free.
Earlier, the Chief Minister also pledged not to back out of the fight against the black laws till they are amended to give a written Constitutional guarantee on MSP and continuation of the FCI.
The verbal assurances of the BJP-led government could not be trusted, he said, slamming the Union government for its ‘Kisan Maro, Punjab Maro’ campaign.
Lashing out at the Akalis for selling off the interests of the farmers as part of the Union government, with Harsimrat Badal being party to the decision as a Cabinet minister, Amarinder warned the farmers that the Central government might pay MSP for a couple of crops, but eventually would scrap the system completely.
Attempts were being made to stifle the collective voice of the farmers, who had come together in this fight to protect their livelihood and future, the Chief Minister said and added that the battle against the farm laws was being fought across the country and the Congress was with the farmers every step of the way.
The farmers of Punjab had been responsible for giving India food security and feeding the nation for six decades and their interests had to be protected at all costs, he added.