Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has time for visiting other countries but not for farmers, reported NDTV. She was speaking at a “kisan mahapanchayat” (farmers’ conclave) in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur held in protest against the farm laws.
“The prime minister had time to go to Pakistan, he had time to go to China, but he did not have time to visit the bordering areas of his own constituency and meet farmers,” she said. The Congress leader also pointed out that it was the farmers who had voted for him.
Vadra said the Centre does not understand the farmers or what they stand for. Her visit to the “mahapanchayat” is part of Congress’s 10-day “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” campaign that is scheduled to be held in 27 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
The Congress general secretary said that Bharatiya Janata Party leaders call farmers anti-national, but it was the government that was anti-national. “They call farmers agitators, extremists, and terrorists,” she said. “They doubt the farmers, but the heart of the farmer can never be against the nation. The farmer’s heart, his work itself is for the land. Farmers till the land, work day and night on the land. How can they betray the nation?”
Calling the farm laws demonic, Vadra said that Congress will scrap the legislations if voted to power, reported PTI. She said that the party will fight till the laws are scrapped.
The Congress leader also condemned the use of the term “andolanjeevi” by Modi. “The prime minister himself insults farmers, that too in Parliament, by calling them andolanjeevi,” Vadra said.
Modi had used the term in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, terming protestors as a new category of people that “are like parasites who feed off protests”. “They jump into all sorts of protests, whether it is by lawyers or students or workers,” the prime minister had said. “Sometimes they can be spotted, while on other occasions, they stay in the background. They are like parasites who feed off protests.”
Vadra addressed the mahapanchayat even as prohibitory orders were imposed in the area in the morning ahead of her visit. District Magistrate Akhilesh Singh had said it was “standard practice” for maintaining law and order.
“We are keeping a keen eye on the mahapanchayat,” he added. “If any law is broken, we will take care of the matter as per law.”
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s border points for over two months, seeking the withdrawal of agricultural laws passed in September. The protests had largely been peaceful but violence erupted on January 26, when a tractor rally planned to coincide with Republic Day celebrations turned chaotic. More than 100 protestors have been arrested in connection with the violence and several are missing.
The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate agricultural. The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. The laws are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.