Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday joined Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to kickstart a 3-day `Kheti Bachao Yatra’ with a vow to fight the black Farm Laws and save the farmers from the clutches of big corporates like the Ambanis and the Adanis, to whom the central government had sold off the interests of the farming community.
Describing the Modi government as a `kathputli’ (puppet) government, whose strings were in the hands of the Adanis and the Ambanis, Rahul gave a `guarantee’ to the farmers that the day the Congress comes to power at the Centre, these three `black laws’ will be scrapped and consigned to the wastepaper basket
Addressing a public rally at Badni Kalan in Moga before taking off on a tractor rally through districts Moga and Ludhiana, Rahul lambasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for lying to the people and misleading the nation for the past six years to serve the interests of 2-3 large corporate houses of his billionaire friends. He cited the examples of demonetisation, GST and the debt & tax waiver of big industrialists amid Covid, while not giving a rupee’s aid to the poor and the farmers.
“This is about your land and your money” Rahul warned the farmers, recalling the Land Acquisition Bill which the UPA government had amended to protect the farmers but the Modi government had scrapped, with the support of the Akalis, soon after taking over the country’s reins. The Adanis and the Ambanis want to take over the land and money of the farmers without giving anything in return and the Prime Minister was helping them in exchange of 24X7 media coverage in his favour, said the Congress MP.
Extending his, and the Congress party’s, full support to the farmers, Rahul said he stood with the farmers in this fight for their survival and livelihood, which the Modi government was trying to destroy with these draconian laws. “Together we will change these laws,” he told the farmers, supporting their fight for their rights.
Questioning the need to push these laws urgently in the times of Covid, and that too without any discussion in Parliament, he quipped, “if the farmers are happy with these legislations, as the Government of India is claiming, then why are they agitating in Punjab and the rest of the country?” The new laws, said Rahul, were aimed at eventually dismantling the MSP and FCI procurement system, and would break the backbone of the farmers, just as the British had done to seize control of India. The central government was also trying to break the farmers’ backbone to hand over the entire farming system to their industrialist friends, he warned, vowing not to let this happen at any cost. “The Congress will stand with the farmers in their fight and will not move back an inch,” he vowed.
Pointing out that the farmers of Punjab and Haryana had given the nation its food security with the tried and tested system that stands on three pillars of MSP, Food Procurement and Mandis, Rahul said while the system needed reforms and change there was no way the Congress would allow it to be destroyed. Such a move would leave the farmers at the mercy of the Adanis and Ambanis etc, which will spell the death knell of the farming community, he added.
Rahul, who postponed his Punjab programme by a day to visit the family of the Hathras victim yesterday, said India had been reduced to a nation where victims were facing criminal action while criminals were going scot free.
Earlier, the Chief Minister also pledged not to back out of the fight against the black laws till they are amended to give a written Constitutional guarantee on MSP and continuation of FCI. The verbal assurances of the BJP-led government could not be trusted, he said, slamming the Union Government for its `Kisan Maroo. Punjab Maroo’ campaign.
Lashing out at the Akalis for selling off the interests of the farmers as part of the Union Government, with Harsimrat Badal being party to the decision as a cabinet minister, Captain Amarinder warned the farmers that the Central Government might pay MSP for a couple of crops, but eventually would scrap the system completely.
Attempts were being made to stifle the collective voice of the farmers, who had come together in this fight to protect their livelihood and future, the Chief Minister said the battle against the Farm Laws was being fought across the country and the Congress was with the farmers every step of the way. The farmers of Punjab had been responsible for giving India is food security and feeding the nation for six decades and their interests had to be protected at all costs, he added.
AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat, AICC General Secretary KC Venugopal, PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar, Punjab Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, MP Mohd. Sadeeq and MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu, along with several other Punjab Congress leaders as well as Congress MP from Haryana Deependra Hooda also shared the stage with Rahul and Captain Amarinder on the occasion.
A `Kisan Mazdoor Ekta Flag’ was released by Rahul, Captain Amarinder and the other leaders. Later, the Congress leaders took off on a tractor rally via Lopon (Moga) and Chakar, Lekha, Manoke (in Jagraon), culminating in Jattpura (Raikot).
Prominent among others who joined the Yatra were Punjab Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Punjab Cabinet Ministers Manpreet Singh Badal, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Charanjit Singh Channi and Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, MLAs Darshan Singh Brar, Rana Gurjit Singh, Dr Harjot Kamal Singh, Kulbir Singh Zira, Harpartap Singh Ajnala, Kuldeep Singh Vaid, Pargat Singh, Devinder Singh Ghubaya and Sukhjit Singh Lohgarh, Ex MLAs Maheshinder Singh and Rajwinder Kaur Bhagike, Punjab Youth Congress President Brinder Dhillon and PPCC Secretary Captain Sandeep Sandhu.