January 30, 2021 12:51:37 am
Having boycotted President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament, the Opposition on Friday demanded discussions on the farmers’ agitation over three contentious farm laws and other issues in Lok Sabha, with senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi asserting that the government cannot suppress the farmers and the agitation will spread unless it is resolved soon.
Gandhi said what the government is doing to the protesting farmers is “absolutely criminal”.
Referring to violent incidents at the Singhu border on Friday, Gandhi accused the government of “attacking” and “beating” the farmers and said it was “absolutely wrong”. “What is being done to the farmers is absolutely criminal. You are beating them, you are threatening them, bullying them, using the NIA and you are trying to discredit them. The government needs to talk to the farmers. It needs to give a solution to the farmers. And the only solution is repealing these laws and putting these laws into the waste paper basket,” he told reporters at an AICC press conference.
“Government must not think that the farmers are going to go home. They are not going to go home. And my concern is that this situation is going to spread. We do not need this situation to spread. We need a conversation with the farmers and we need a solution,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla held a meeting with floor leaders of political parties. He also chaired a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee, which allocated 10 hours each for debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s Address and the discussion on the Union Budget. The Speaker sought the Opposition’s cooperation for the smooth functioning of the House.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told the Speaker that both sides should help each other to ensure smooth functioning. He said the Congress will raise the farmers’ stir and other issues, whether he likes it or not.
At the press conference, Gandhi said the opposition boycotted the President’s Address because “we didn’t see the relevance of going there and we wanted to stand in solidarity with the farmers”.
He called the farm laws no less than “theft” and said his party will continue to support the farmers.
Asked about the storming of the Red Fort, Gandhi said, “Is it not the job of the Home Ministry to stop them from entering the Red Fort? Who is responsible for that? Why were they allowed to go in? Who allowed them? Ask the Home Minister. Also ask him what the idea behind allowing people to enter is.”
“The person who has allowed this to happen should resign, but, there is no way he is going to resign. I mean, the BJP doesn’t take responsibility for its actions, so I don’t expect him to resign,” he said. Gandhi also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he is silent on the farmers’ protest because he is working for a handful of industrialists for whom he had carried out demonetisation, rolled out GST and is now snatching from the farmers there future. “I want to tell the farmers…we are all with you.” He said the farmers of the country are yet to understand the laws in depth. “The Prime Minister should not think that the agitation will stop there. I am telling you this agitation will spread from farmers to the cities… Because it is not just the farmers who are angry. There are lakhs of youth whose jobs have been snatched by these 5-10 people and the Prime Minister….”
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