New Delhi: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Sunday hit out at the Narendra Modi government for not heeding the demands of farmers to repeal three laws aimed at opening up trade in agriculture that they say will harm the interests of cultivators and hurt their livelihoods.
“In this biting cold and rain, our farmers have been protesting on the borders of Delhi for 39 days now. Their plight is a concern for all the citizens and I,” Gandhi said.
“More than 50 farmers have lost their lives because of the government’s harsh attitude towards the protests. Some have even committed suicide. Neither has their decision moved the Modi government or any of its ministers, nor have they uttered a word of consolation. I offer my tribute to those who have passed away and prayers and strength to their families.”
Gandhi’s statement came a day after a farmer on the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi border allegedly committed suicide because the government did not heed farmers’ demands. The farmers have demanded a repeal of the three controversial farm laws.In the latest round of talks held on December 30, the government has offered to set up a panel to examine the laws, but it has stayed firm on its decision to not repeal them.
The three farm laws passed in September essentially change the way India’s farmers do business by creating free markets, as opposed to a network of decades-old, government marketplaces, allowing traders to stockpile essential commodities for future sales and laying down a national framework for contract farming.
Together, the laws will allow big corporations and global supermarket chains to buy directly from farmers, bypassing decades-old regulations.Farmers say the reforms will enable large corporations to dictate prices and exploit them.
Gandhi said that the government’s inaction was tantamount to arrogance and it must recognize that the true meaning of democracy is to protect the rights and interests of the farmers and workers.
“Ever since independence, this is the first arrogant government to have come to power that doesn’t care for the farmers who feed, let alone the citizens,” Gandhi said. “It is evident that the government is practising a policy of “tire them and drive them away,” But our farmers will not bend before them. The government must let go of its ego and repeal the three farm laws and bring an end to the protests. The true meaning of democracy is protecting the interests of the farmers and workers, the Modi government should learn that.”
Attacking the Centre, senior party leader Rahul Gandhi also tweeted: “The country is facing a situation like Champaran once again. Back then, it was the British that were in cahoots with the company, now it is the Modi government. But every agitating farmer-worker is a satyagrahi, who will secure his rights.”
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