In 2000, Renuka Chaudhary drove into parliament on a tractor to highlight the plight of farmers in Andhra Pradesh. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi may do a repeat in a few days to show his and his party’s opposition to the recently enacted farm laws.
Sources say that a programme is being drawn up in the form of kisan (farmer) protest, which could start from Sangrur in Punjab. Sangrur is one of the agrarian hub in the state, which has also seen much farmer distress. Travelling through some parts of Punjab, Rahul Gandhi is likely to cross through Haryana and then end his yatra in Delhi. This trip on a tractor, possibly to be held in a few legs, will aim to highlight Congress' stand against the laws, which it says shows that the Modi government is against the farmers and has framed laws to favour the corporates.
Congress has also shirked off the criticism from the BJP that its manifesto in 2009 and 2014 did mention similar clauses on disbanding APMC and that the Congress was being hypocritical in opposing the bill. AICC general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala had contradicted this allegation saying that the Congress had never closed the options of APMC and further said that the farmers will not benefit from the new laws amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rahul Gandhi, who has been attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which he said is a 'suit boot ki sarkar', hopes to recreate a rustic image for the Congress, projecting it as a party which alone cares for kisans and the common man. Tractors are symbols of a farmer's power and if he indeed sits on a tractor, he would want to reinforce this image.
Recently, Congress had run into trouble when Punjab Youth Congress leaders, led by their chief Brindher Dhillon, had burnt a tractor at the India Gate in Delhi. Brindher and some of his aides were detained. The prime minister, in his message, had attacked the Congress for burning down what he called a farmer’s tool of worship. Rahul Gandhi’s plan can be seen as a thumbs down to this allegation as well.
However, there already seems to be some opposition to Rahul Gandhi's plan. Haryana minister Anil Vij has accused Rahul Gandhi of creating trouble and has said that he won't be allowed to enter the state. But Congress says they won't be daunted and are ready for a confrontation over this. Sources close to Rahul say he has geared up for a fight for a cause he began his politics with -- land acquisition and famers' issues.
Parliament has recently passed the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill 2020 which got the assent of President Ram Nath Kovid and have come into effect from September 27.