Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Monday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not withdrawing the three new farm laws despite the farmers’ agitation against them for months now, ANI reported.
“Farmers sitting at Delhi borders for over 80 days in cold are now bracing themselves for summers...What are they sitting for?” Gandhi asked at a farmers’ mahapanchayat (conclave) at Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh. “Prime minister says the laws are for benefit of farmers. When farmers themselves are saying that they don’t want it then why are you not withdrawing them?”
The Congress leader said that the prime minister was insulting the farmers by ignoring them. “The son of the farmer who is standing on your door, is standing at the border of the country,” Gandhi said, according to PTI. She accused Modi of insulting farmers by calling those involved in the protests “andolan jeevi” (those who live off protests) in Parliament.
Gandhi alleged that the prime minister had introduced the laws not for the benefit of farmers, but for his “capitalist friends”.
“The country is not blind and every citizen is watching as to what is happening in the country for the past seven years,” she said, according to PTI. “His capitalist friends are running the entire media, his capitalist friends run his elections.”
Gandhi mocked Modi and pointed out that the prime minister did not visit the protest sites to speak to the farmers, even as he travelled to foreign countries. “The prime minister can go to the US [United States], hold a gathering for [former US President Donald] Trump, visit China and Pakistan...and there is no country which he has not visited,” the Comgress leader said. “But he could not go two-three kilometres from his house and meet the farmers who are saying please come and talk to us.”
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 police have now heavily barricaded the protest sites.
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.