Rahul Gandhi likely to join farmers protest in Punjab: Report

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New Delhi: As farmers across India are agitating against the government over three farm laws passed by both houses of the Indian parliament last week, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi is likely to lead a protest in Punjab this week in support of them, a Delhi-based newspaper Hindustan Times reported.

Quoting a Congress leader, the report said that Gandhi is also expected to address a rally, the date and venue of which is being finalised.

“After Punjab, he may join the protesting farmers in Haryana. But we are not sure if the BJP government in Haryana will allow him to enter the state,” the leader was quoted saying in the report.

The protest rally is supposed to be a part of the Congress party’s ongoing two-month-long nationwide agitation programme against the Indian government over the three farm laws.

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 were cleared by both the Houses of Parliament last week, triggering widespread protests in India, especially in Punjab and Haryana.

In view of the ‘protocols being followed’ during the COVID pandemic; Gandhi, after returning on Tuesday from the United States where he had accompanied his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi for a routine health check-up, did not attend the proceedings or join the Opposition’s protests in Parliament on the last day of the monsoon session on Wednesday.

However, he has been repeatedly tweeting against the government decision.

In a video message as part of the Congress party’s “Speak up for Farmers” campaign on Saturday, Gandhi said that farmers were being “persistently attacked”.

“First demonetisation, then GST, then you were not given a single rupee at the time of coronavirus, an attempt was being made to kill you (farmers), you are being made a slave of corporates, and now these three deadly bills,” he said.

“We are standing with you (farmers) and together we will stop these bills. I want to say to the government—you have made a very big mistake. If farmers hit the streets, it will result in tremendous damage. Don’t waste time, withdraw these laws immediately and give a guarantee on MSP (minimum support price) to farmers,” Gandhi added.

On Thursday, the Congress launched its “mass movement” against the government of India over “anti-farmer, anti-poor and black laws”.

The party has also decided to collect two crore signatures from protesting farmers against the proposed legislation and is set to hold several press conferences across India.

On Monday, senior leaders from states will walk to the respective Raj Bhavans and submit a memorandum on the farm bills to governors to be handed over to the President.

The Congress will also observe “Kisan-Mazdoor Bachao Divas (Save Farmers and Farm Labourers Day). State-level conferences are supposed to be held On October 10, and from October 2 to October 31, the party will collect signatures from 20 million farmers from all parts India.

On the birth anniversary of India’s first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru November 14, a memorandum, along with signatures of 20 million farmers, will be submitted to the Indian President.


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