The Congress also stepped up the offensive against the government by launching an online campaign in support of the farmers’ agitation, with senior party leader Rahul Gandhi accusing the Centre of betraying the farmers for benefitting their “corporate friends”.
The meeting between the government and representatives of protesting farmer unions on Friday failed to break the over-a-month-long deadlock with both sides sticking to their positions.
While farmer leaders told the government their “ghar wapsi” from protest sites at Delhi borders can happen only after “law wapsi”, the Centre insisted talks must be limited to contentious clauses and ruled out a complete withdrawal of Acts.
Hitting out at the Centre, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “The Modi government has proved to be the most inhuman, arrogant and ruthless in the history of India. It can neither see the farmers dying due to the cold every day nor the economy coming to a standstill.”
“It is trying to tire out the ‘annadata’ by playing the game of meetings with the farmers. But the farmer will neither tire out nor bow down and will not stop,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met party’s MPs and MLAs from Punjab who have been sitting in protest at Jantar Mantar demanding the repeal of the farm laws.
“The only solution is to repeal the three farm laws. There is no other solution,” she told the protesting legislators during the meeting.
“We have always stood by the farmers and we will not step back,” she added while reiterating the party’s support for farmers.
Punjab MPs Ravneet Singh Bittu, Jasbir Singh Gill and Gurjit Singh Aujla, along with some of the party MLAs including Kulbir Singh Zira have been sitting on a dharna at Jantar Mantar for the last 32 days in support of the farmers and demanding the repeal of the farm laws.
As part of the Congress’ online campaign, Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to seek support for the protesting farmers.
“The Modi government has betrayed the ‘annadata’ of the country for the benefit of their capitalist friends. The farmers have spoken through their agitation. It is the duty of all of us to raise the voice of the ‘annadata’ and support their demands,” he tweeted in Hindi.
“Peaceful agitation is an integral part of democracy. The farmers’ movement is getting support from all over the country. You too should raise your voice in their support and strengthen the voice of farmers so that the anti-agriculture laws are repealed,” he said in another tweet.
In another tweet, after the meeting between the government and farmer leaders ended, Rahul Gandhi said, “Those whose intentions are not clear, it is their strategy to give one date after another.”
Congress leaders participated in the party’s online campaign by putting out their videos on Twitter seeking support for the agitating farmers.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws, despite the cold weather and heavy rains.
Enacted in September 2020, the government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers’ income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and ‘mandi’ (wholesale market) systems, leaving them at the mercy of big corporations.