Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party, saying that his silence to mourn the 300 farmers who died during the protests against the agricultural laws was not acceptable to the saffron party.
“My 2-minute silence for farmers, who were martyred, is not acceptable to the BJP,” Gandhi tweeted. “I will pay tribute to the sacrifices of my farmer and labourer brothers again and again. I am not afraid of those who fear my silence!”
In February, Gandhi led his party members and those from the Trinamool Congress and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in the Lok Sabha to observe a two-minute silence while standing to mourn the death of protesting farmers. The Congress leader had said he was doing this as the government did not pay tributes to them.
Gandhi has regularly attacked the BJP-led Centre on the farm laws. On February 22, the Congress leader had suggested that the government’s aim was not to give farmers the correct price for their produce, but to destroy their markets. A day earlier, he had said that pop stars had spoken about the situation of farmers in India, but the government was not interested in solving their problems. Gandhi was referring to pop singer Rihanna’s tweets on the farm laws protest in India that had drawn global attention.
Farm law protests
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since December, demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. Farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime.
The farmers have hunkered down with supplies that they say will last them for months, and have resolved to not leave until their demands are met.
Several rounds of talks between the government and farm leaders took place, but none of them could manage to end the deadlock. In January, the Supreme Court had suspended the implementation of the laws until further orders.
The movement poses one of the biggest challenges to Modi since he took power in 2014, as he faces criticism from all sides, including from some allies of the BJP. The Shiromani Akali Dal of Punjab quit the ruling National Democratic Alliance at the Centre in September itself.
Another sign of impact was the Congress’ spectacular performance in theurban body polls held in Punjab last month.