Even as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi termed the Centre’s farm laws an attack on India’s soul, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said his government would pass in the Vidhan Sabha whatever resolution/Bill needed to counter their dangerous impact on the nation.
Addressing a public rally in Bhawanigarh on the second day of the 3-day Kheti Bachao Yatra, the Chief Minister vowed to do whatever it takes to protect the farmers and the state from the devastating effects of the black laws.
Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to destroy the mandi and MSP system, which was the wall of India’s agriculture sector, Rahul said if the BJP-led Union Government succeeds in breaking the backbone of the farmers the entire nation will be enslaved to industrialists like Ambani and Adani. The Modi government is doing to India what the East India Company of the British did, he warned, adding that what people buy now for Rs 10 will cost them Rs 50 under the corporate regime, and the money will go not to the farmers or labourers but into the pockets of the corporate houses.
Rahul further warned that Ambanis and Adanis will not use labour but would deploy machines to undertake the farm sector operations, rendering lakhs of people jobless. The farmers will be forced to deal with these industrialists under the new system, and even the administration and police of the state will not be able to help them, he added.
The central government’s assault on farmers would led to the ruination of the entire nation, Rahul earlier warned, addressing a rally at Barnala Chow at Sangrur at the start of the tractor rally, which was scheduled to travel through Bhawanigarh, Fatehgarh Chhana, Bahmna, to culminate with another rally at the Grain Market in Samana in District Patiala.
The farmers, however, will not be scared into submission, said Rahul, warning the Modi government that they will brave Covid to fight for their rights out on the streets of Punjab and the rest of the country.
Joined by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who lashed out at the Union Government for destroying the time-tested farmer-Arhtiya relationship to hand over Agriculture to big corporates like Adanis and Ambanis, Rahul made it clear that the Congress would not stop fighting for the farmers. Farmers will be left by these new laws at the mercy of these big industrialists, whom they will never be able to fight or go to for help, both the Congress leaders said, adding that the farm laws will spell doom for the farming community.
“Will you go to Adanis and Ambanis when in need, as you do with to the Arhtiyas at present,?” the Chief Minister asked the farmers, while Rahul said once these industrialists take control of food, every household will have to pay 3-fold for the produce, leading to devastation and suffering for the entire nation. Not only will the farmers lose their land and livelihood, others associated with the Mandis and the food procurement chain will be rendered jobless, said Rahul.
The Congress MP said the need of the hour was to strengthen the existing system, and to correct the flaws in it, rather than to destroy it, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed to be bent on doing. Modi is only clearing the ground for his industrialist friends to take over, he added.
Rahul lashed out at the BJP-led Government of India for trying to finish agriculture after failing to generate the promised employment. It is not Ambani and Adani who create jobs but small businesses and MSMEs, which Modi has been ruining with his ill-conceived moves like demonetisation, GST etc, he added. Pointing out that for six years Modi had been attacking the poor with his policies, Rahul said with demonetisation the common people’s hard-earned money was diverted through the banks to big industrialists, and with GST he has ruined the SMEs and small traders. Even the Covid crisis has been used by the Prime Minister to help out his capitalist friends, whose loans and taxes he has waived off/reduces, said Rahul.
Amid slogans of ‘Captain Paanian Da Rakha Zindabad’, the Chief Minister told the people in the heartland of the Malwa region, which produces the highest yield in Wheat and Paddy, that the Modi government had backtracked on every single promise, be it the constitutional promise of GST or employment or doubling of farmers’ income. For seven months, Punjab had not got its share of GST, leaving the state struggling to manage amid Covid, he said.
Warning that these laws will led to closure of the mandis, he said his government could not let the Union Government do that and will take all steps, including a Vidhan Sabha session to counter the new legislations, and challenging the Centre’s laws in Supreme Court.
Recalling his bonding with Sangrur, Chief Minister said that “this is the land of my forefathers and its sacred soil produced martyrs like Shaheed Udham Singh, who kept the soil of Jallianwala Bagh with him to act as a constant reminder to avenge the tragedy of 1919.” “We derive inspiration from such heroes and martyrs,” said Captain Amarinder Singh.
PPCC president Sunil Jakhar, ex Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Cabinet Ministers Balbir Sidhu and Vijay Inder Singla also spoke on the occasion, which was attended, among others, by AICC general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Harish Rawat, Haryana Congress leader Deepender Hooda. Cabinet Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi also shared the stage, along with Dhuri MLA Dalvir Singh Goldy.
The occasion also saw a farmer named Mukhtiar Singh from Kanjhla village, holding 4 acres of land, narrating his tale of woes to the Chief Minister and other leaders.
The venue resonated with slogans of ‘Kissan-arhrtiya-mazdoor ekta zindabad’ by the farmers, arhtiyas and labourers who had gathered in large numbers to welcome Rahul and Captain Amarinder, before they embarked on a tractor rally through Fatehgarh Chhana, Bahmna (Samana, District Patiala). The rally was scheduled to end in a public meeting at Grain Market, Samana.