Rahul Gandhi Says New Farm Laws Will 'Enslave' Farmers, West India Company Has Arrived
File photo of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
Expressing solidarity with the farmers who called a Bharat bandh on Friday to protest the farm bills, the Congress alleged that the legislations will "enslave" farmers and the MSP will be "snatched away" from them, with Rahul Gandhi claiming the laws will foster an East India company-like culture. The three bills were passed by both houses of Parliament during the Monsoon session and are awaiting presidential assent.
Gandhi talked to some farmers through video conferencing and said they have no faith in the government, adding the country together opposes these agri-related laws. He said earlier it was the East India company and now it is the West India company that has come to do business. In a short video attached with a tweet, Gandhi said India attained independence with the voice of farmers and once again the country will achieve independence through their strong voice.
"One thing is clear after talking to farmers – they do not have even a little faith in the Modi government. The voice of all of us has added to the loud voice of the farmers, and today the entire country together opposes these agricultural laws," he said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag "ISupportBharatBandh". In the video, he said, "these laws have to be opposed, not for farmers but for the future of the country." "The farmer's voice is in the youth, the armed forces, the police. The farmer's voice has strength and India attained independence using this voice.
"India became independent through the farmer's voice and once again today India will become independent through farmers' voices," he said in the video. At one point when a farmer said it was like bringing in the East India company once again, Gandhi said earlier it was the East India company, now it is the West India company.
"A flawed GST destroyed MSMEs. The new agriculture laws will enslave our farmers," the former Congress chief earlier tweeted. Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Randeep Surjewala spoke out against the farm bills and backed the Bharat Bandh. Priyanka hit out at the government, saying the three farm bills brought by it are reminiscent of the "East India Company rule".
The MSP (minimum support price) of the farmers will be "snatched away" and they will be forced to become slaves of billionaires through contract farming, she said in a tweet in Hindi. "Neither will they get the price nor respect. Farmers will become labourers in their own land," she alleged.
Congress' chief spokesperson Surjewala said the party joins farmers in their struggle. "Farmers are protesting with Bharat Bandh. Their livelihood 'is being snatched' away and the Modi government has attacked their farms," he said in a video message.
"There is chaos everywhere. Modi ji swears by farmers, but stays true to his friendship with crony capitalist friends," Surjewala alleged. The Congress and farmers will struggle together and will never allow the Modi government to "mortgage farmers and agriculture at the doorstep of crony capitalists", he said.
At a press conference, Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said the farmers are out on the streets protesting the black laws which are anti-farmer. The Congress is launching a SpeakUp campaign on social media on Saturday in support of the farmers and against the laws.
"It's time to speak up for what is right. It's time to speak up for those that give us life. It's time to speak up against those that seek to destroy our nation. It's time to #SpeakUpForFarmers," the Congress said on its Twitter handle. During Rahul Gandhi's interaction with around 10 farmers from across the country, Dhirender Kumar from Champaran, Bihar said, this is an "andha kanoon" (blind law) and the farmers and the poor are being exploited.
Pankaj Taniram Matere from Bhandra in Maharashtra said no poor farmer will benefit from these laws and only companies and big people are going to benefit. "If a company buys from the farmer and does not pay, the poor farmer cannot even protest before them as they will beat them up and in that case what will the farmer do and eat," he asked.
Amritrao Deshmukh of Dabri in Maharashtra said a large number of farmers have committed suicide here. Rakesh Jakhar of Jhajjar in Haryana said if the farmers are going to benefit from these laws, why the government does not make a law to ensure MSP.
"Commission agents through whom the farmer used to sell his produce were called dalals. In fact, the dalals will come now when the farm produce will be sold to the corporate world," he said. As Rahul Gandhi asked why farmers fear that the MSP will go, Om Parkash Dhankar of Jhajjar said the government should guarantee that if anyone buys at below the MSP from farmers it should be considered as a punishable offence.
Ashok Bootra of Yavatmal in Maharashtra said the corporates will buy cheap from farmers and will sell three-four times while Rudra Pratap Pandey of Bhojpur in Bihar said the businessmen used to earlier pay some advance but have stopped doing that saying they will not buy paddy. Gajanand Kashinath of Vashim, Maharashtra, said if Mahatma Gandhi was alive, he would have also opposed these laws.