Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the Narendra Modi-led government over the ongoing farmers’ agitation and Chinese incursion. Gandhi’s comments drew criticism from Bharatiya Janata Party President JP Nadda, who accused him of lying about the two key concerns and put forth a series of questions.

Gandhi said at a press briefing that a huge tragedy was unfolding in the country, and the farmers’ protest over the new agricultural laws was only one part of it. He spoke about how the corporate sector was gradually taking control of the country.

The Congress leader said that the Centre’s farming laws were designed to destroy agriculture by damaging the mandi system and the Essential Commodities Act. “The government has to take the laws back,” he said. Gandhi added that the laws will allow “three to four crony capitalists” to control the agriculture sector.

Gandhi said that the government cannot tire out or fool the protesting farmers. “Indian farmers have a better understanding of matters than Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said. “We all have to extend our full support to the farmers. The Congress leader also released a booklet detailing how the farming laws will cause damage to agriculture.

The Congress leader also spoke about India’s economic decline under the BJP government. “We were an eminent economy once,” he said. “Now we have been reduced to a laughing stock.”

Gandhi said that he did not fear the ruling establishment. “I am not afraid of anyone, neither of [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi nor of anyone else,” he was quoted as saying by PTI. “I am a clean person, they can’t touch me. They can shoot me, but can’t touch me. I am a patriot and I protect my country, and I will keep doing it.”

India must give clear message to China, says Rahul Gandhi

Gandhi said that India had to give a clear message to China and make its military and geopolitical strategy evident, ANI reported. “China has a clear strategic vision of shaping the world which India doesn’t have,” he said. “India does this and that but doesn’t work strategically. China has tested India twice, one in Doklam and other in Ladakh.”

The Congress leader said that China will continue to display aggression. “China won’t stay quiet but will make the most out of it. The day it will happen, we’ll suffer damages.”

In a tweet earlier in the day, Gandhi took a swipe at Modi over a report that China had built a village in Arunachal Pradesh. “Remember his promise – [“Will not let the country bow”],” Gandhi said on Twitter with a link of a news report about the “Chinese village”.

Gandhi’s party colleague Randeep Surjewala also mocked the prime minister, asking him about his “56-inch chest”. He asked if the central government would act against Chinese incursions.

Face-off with BJP

At his press briefing, Gandhi also hit back at Nadda for asking him a series of questions about national matters. “Why should I answer to him?” Gandhi asked. “Is he my professor? I will answer to this country and the farmers.”

Nadda had asked Gandhi to answer his questions during the press briefing. The first question was about China. “When will Rahul Gandhi, his dynasty and Congress stop lying on China?” Nadda asked. “Can he deny that thousands of kms, including the one in Arunachal Pradesh he is referring to was gifted by none other than Pandit [Jawaharlal] Nehru to the Chinese? Time and again, why does Congress surrender to China?”

The BJP president went on ask Gandhi when the Congress would stop “provoking and misleading” the farmers of India. “Why did UPA stall the Swaminathan Commission report for years and did not increase the MSP? Nadda asked. “Why did farmers remain poor for decades under Congress governments? Does he feel sympathy for farmers only in opposition?”

Nadda accused Gandhi of trying to demotivate the country amid its fight against the coronavirus crisis. “Today when India has one of the lowest cases and our scientists have come up with a vaccine, why hasn’t he congratulated the scientists and lauded 130 crore Indians even once?” he asked.