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Farm Bills: Cong Steps Up Attack, Rahul Gandhi Accuses Govt of Working for Development of Crony Capitalists

File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress and some other opposition parties have been protesting against the farm bills, alleging these would harm the interest of farmers and benefit corporates, a claim denied by the government.

The Congress on Tuesday stepped up its attack on the government over the farm bills issue, with Rahul Gandhi accusing the Modi government of working for the development of crony capitalists at the cost of farmers. The Congress and some other opposition parties have been protesting against the farm bills, alleging these would harm the interest of farmers and benefit corporates, a claim denied by the government.

The Centre has asserted that the bills would be beneficial for farmers and increase their income. "2014- Modi ji's election promise of Swaminathan commission MSP (minimum support price) for farmers. 2015- Modi government said in court that this will not be possible. 2020- Black agriculture laws," Gandhi tweeted in Hindi.

Then, in a four-line verse in Hindi, the former Congress president sarcastically said, "Modi ji's intention is 'clear'" with his new "anti-agriculture" attempt. Development of crony capitalist "friends" at the cost of farmers, he said, according to a rough translation of his Hindi tweet.

The Congress attacked the government over the Centre hiking the minimum price for buying six rabi crops, including wheat, by up to six per cent. Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised 50 per cent profit but the agricultural price commission report 2021-22 has "exposed" this claim.

"Not writing the term MSP in the three farm laws is ending the guarantee of MSP. Modi ji does not answer that when the mandis are finished, where will the farmers get MSP, how will it be received, who will give it?" he added. "We asked these questions in Rajya Sabha, got no answer. We also asked in Lok Sabha, but no answer. We said that if everything is well then why don't you write the MSP guarantee in law. If you write, then the farmer will get it and also write that if a company buys a crop below the minimum support price, then it will get punished and will have to pay the rest," Surjewala said.

The Congress also said its boycott of Rajya Sabha will not end till the government brings another bill making it illegal for private players to buy food grains from farmers below the MSP, all state agencies comply by the MSP and the procurement price is fixed as per the Swaminathan panel's recommendations. The Opposition party also called for revocation of suspension of eight MPs in the Upper House.

Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad made this assertion outside Parliament while speaking to reporters and said the revocation of suspension of the Opposition Rajya Sabha MPs was not a demand, but a "request". However, earlier, speaking inside Rajya Sabha, he had said that the opposition will boycott proceedings of the House till the suspension is revoked.

Outside Parliament, Azad said the Opposition has decided to boycott Rajya Sabha until the three conditions on the farm bills are met. Senior Congress leader and former Union finance minister P Chidambaram also attacked the government over the farm bills issue.

"Government has released advertisements defending the farm bills. One line in the advertisement says that 'One Nation One Market' will give freedom to the farmers," he said in a series of tweets. "Eight-five per cent of farmers are small farmers with little surplus to sell. If they have to sell the few bags of paddy or wheat, they need 'Many Thousand Markets' all over the country, not 'One Market'," Chidambaram asserted.

"What do the Bills do to create thousands of farmers' markets in large villages and small towns?" he asked. Asserting that thousands of markets will give freedom to farmers, he asked if the government's intention is to guarantee MSP, why is there no clause in the bills that stipulate that the "price shall not be less than the MSP" for that produce.

Surjewala said the Opposition will take this fight now from Parliament up to over lakhs of villages and small towns and cities of this country. The Congress on Monday announced a massive people's movement which would include protest marches, agitations and collecting two crore farmers' signatures for a memorandum against the legislations to be submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind.

This was decided at a meeting of Congress general secretaries and state in-charges, the first physical meeting held by the party at its 24 Akbar Road headquarters here since the outbreak of the coronavirus. The Farmer's Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020, have been passed by both Houses and await presidential assent.


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