Pehowa (Kurukshetra), Oct 6 (PTI) Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said that the entire Congress is behind farmers in their fight against the new agriculture-related laws and asserted his party will not go back by an inch on its stand.
Once a Congress-led government is formed at the Centre, the farm laws will be revoked and dumped into the “dustbin”, he said, addressing a gathering in the evening here on the conclusion of his “Kheti Bachao Yatra” (save the farming march), which began from Punjab's Moga district on Sunday.
Gandhi kept Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the policies of his government at the centre of his attack.
'We want to assure you,' he told the farmers, 'we are with you and we will not go back by an inch. Entire Congress stands behind you, not just in Haryana or Punjab but in the whole country. When our government is formed, we will scrap these laws and dump them in the dustbin,” he said. Gandhi, who drove a tractor to the border with Haryana here after winding up his 'tractor rally' in Punjab's Patiala district, said the peasantry understands that Modi is “clearing the path” for a few “chosen” business houses as farmers, labourers “cannot do Modi's marketing, which these corporates can”, Gandhi alleged.
That is why farmers' land was being “snatched” to be handed over to them, he claimed.
He said the Prime Minister is “mistaken” if he feels the Indian farmer will be cowed down. “Then he does not know the country's farmer. Modi ji, if you think farmers cannot stand up and raise their voice, you are mistaken. The Indian farmer is not scared of anyone. He knows how to fight, he will not go back by an inch,” he said.
“But before our government is formed, we will continue to wage a struggle and raise farmers' voice and together we will oppose these laws,” he said.
Earlier, a high-drama was witnessed at Haryana's border with Punjab as Gandhi arrived on a tractor to enter the state leading a huge procession of Congress workers from the neighbouring state.
Gandhi had to wait for more than an hour to cross over into Haryana to continue his 'tractor rally' as authorities of the BJP-ruled state said they could not allow hundreds of Congress workers accompanying him from Punjab.
When Gandhi was waiting for permission for entry into Haryana, he tweeted, “They have stopped us on a bridge on the Haryana border. I'm not moving and am happy to wait here. 1 hour, 5 hours, 24 hours, 100 hours, 1000 hours or 5000 hours.” Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condemned the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government for 'forcibly' trying to stop Gandhi from entering Haryana in support of farmers protesting the 'black laws.' Amarinder described the action “undemocratic and despotic' and said this cannot stop the Congress from fighting for rights of farmers.
'You can't suppress farmers or stop them from fighting for survival,' the Punjab CM told the BJP as Gandhi’s rally was stopped at Pehowa border. The CM told his Haryana counterpart that the farm laws will destroy farmers not just of Punjab but also of Haryana.
There was a heavy deployment of Haryana police personnel at the border when Gandhi arrived after being escorted by Punjab police up to the inter-state border.
There were some anxious moments as there was a build-up of Congress workers from Punjab near the border and police had a tough time to handle the situation.
However, later Gandhi was allowed entry into Haryana after the party workers accompanying him from Patiala district returned.
Ahead of Gandhi’s visit, Chief Minister M L Khattar and Home Minister Anil Vij had said the Congress leader can bring a few people in the state but it will not permit a big crowd from Punjab which can 'disturb' the atmosphere.
At the Haryana border, Gandhi was welcomed by senior leaders of the Congress from the state including State unit chief Kumari Selja, AICC chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, and other leaders including Kuldeep Bishnoi, Vivek Bansal, Ajay Singh Yadav, Kiran Choudhary and Deepender Singh Hooda.
Addressing the gathering here, Gandhi said if the mandis and the system which gives food security is broken, not only farmers, labourers, but the entire country will become slaves.
Mandis give employment to so many people, and if these are finished with these laws lakhs will be rendered jobless, he said.
Asserting that farm laws were tilted towards the corporates, he also said ordinary farmers will not be able to take on big corporates and so be left at their mercy.
Gandhi also attacked the Modi government over demonetisation, GST and claimed his dispensation did nothing for the poor, weaker sections, farmers and small shopkeepers for past six years except giving them hardships. Addressing the gathering, Surjewala, Hooda and Selja said the fight against these “anti-farmer” laws will continue till they force the government to roll them back.
Later, Gandhi also paid a visit to Jyotisar here, an important pilgrimage site. PTI SUN VSD TIR TIR