Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday attacked the Narendra Modi government over the three farm bills that were passed in Parliament during the Monsoon Session, saying it will “enslave farmers”.

His comments came as several farmers’ outfits intensified their agitation against the legislations and began a nationwide protest. Opposition parties, including the Congress, have extended support to the call of Bharat Bandh.

“A flawed GST destroyed MSMEs [Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises],” Gandhi tweeted. “The new agriculture laws will enslave our farmers.”

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that those who always lied to farmers are now “shooting from their shoulders” and misleading them for their own political benefit. He accused the Opposition leaders of spreading rumours. “Saving farmers from such rumours and explaining the importance of the agriculture reforms is the responsibility and duty of all BJP workers because we have to make the future of farmers bright,” Modi said.

Despite Modi’s assurances, massive protests are underway in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi also hit out at the government, saying the three farm bills brought by it are reminiscent of the “East India Company rule”. She alleged that the farmers will not get the minimum support price nor respect with the passage of the bills.

Congress’ chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the party supports farmers in their struggle. “Their livelihood is being snatched away and the Modi government has attacked their farms,” he said in a video message. “There is chaos everywhere. Modi ji swears by farmers, but stays true to his friendship with crony capitalist friends.”

Three controversial bills on agriculture reforms are set to become law after being passed by the Rajya Sabha on September 20 in the middle of utter pandemonium. The three bills are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill. The last one was also approved by a voice vote in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Opposition parties have requested President Ram Nath Kovind to not give his assent to the three farm bills. While the Opposition said the “anti-farmer” bills were passed in an undemocratic manner, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party accused them of disrupting parliamentary proceedings. But neither the Centre nor the Rajya Sabha chairperson and his deputy have offered an explanation as to why a division vote was not allowed on the farm bills, despite the fact that several parties were opposed to the bills.

Critics say that these new agricultural policies will lead to farmers losing out on guaranteed purchase prices for their crops, to the benefit of large corporations.

Also read:

  1. Modi insists farm bills have nothing to do with MSP – so why are farmers protesting?
  2. Dubious voice vote to pass critical farm bills severely dents Indian democracy