(combines related stories) Wayanad (Ker), Feb 22 (PTI) After taking out a tractor rally in his constituency in solidarity with agitating farmers, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday hit out at the BJP-led NDA government and said agriculture is the only business that belongs to 'Bharat Mata' and urged the people to 'force' the government to take back the three farm laws.
The Wayanad MP, who is on two-day visit to his constituency in poll-bound Kerala, also took on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on MGNREGA.
The congress leader alleged Modi had 'ridiculed' the rural job scheme when he took over as PM in 2014 but was later 'forced to accept' the fact that the programme brought in by the previous UPA government played the role of 'saviour' of people of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
'We have pop stars who are commenting on the situation of Indian farmers but the Indian government is not interested. They are not going to take back three laws unless they are forced,' he said, addressing a meeting organised after the six km tractor rally between Thrikkaipatta to Muttil in this hill district.
'The entire world can see the difficulties faced by Indian farmers. But the government in Delhi is unable to understand the pain of the farmers,' Gandhi said.
He alleged the three laws are designed to destroy the agriculture system in India and give the entire business to 2 to 3 friends of Prime Minister Modi.
Stating that agriculture is the biggest business in the country worth Rs 40 lakh crore and it is owned by millions and millions of Indians, the Congress leader said, 'agriculture is the only business that belongs to Bharat Mata' and a few people want to own this business.
He referred to the recent 'hum do, hamare do' jibe he had made in Parliament to give a narrative that two people in the government are partnering with two people outside the government to control the Indian agriculture.
The idea is that farmers should sell their produces directly to these people.They want to destroy the entire agricultural chain that protects 40 per cent of people of this country,' Gandhi said.
'We are not going to allow Bharat Mata's business to be taken over by two or three Narendra Modi's friends.That is why we drove tractors here to make farmers understand that we are standing with them, we are going to help them and we are going to make sure this BJP government takes back these laws,' the former Congress president said.
Earlier, inaugurating a Kudumbasree Sangamam at Poothadi Grama Panchayat, Gandhi said the Congress works for the empowerment of the poor and alleged that the idea of the ruling BJP was to empower the most powerful.
'When Modi became Prime Minister, in Parliament House, in front of all of us, he ridiculed MGNREGA.He said MGNREGA was an insult to the Indian people,' Gandhi alleged.
He claimed the Prime Minister was forced to increase the work and money of the scheme during the spread of coronavirus in the country. 'And he was forced to accept during COVID-19 that only MGNREGA played the role of saviour of our people,' Gandhi said.
He noted that the demand for MGNREGA, which provides social protection for the most vulnerable people living in rural India by guaranteeing wage employment opportunities, 'skyrocketed' during COVID.
The Wayanad MP said both SHGs and the MGNREGA were brought in by the UPA government not as a 'gift' but as 'tools for empowerment for making our people stronger.' He said when the MGNREGA was brought in to provide at least 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in a financial year to every rural household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work, 'lots of people questioned it asking why we are spoiling our people by giving charity.' Many claimed MGNREGA scheme was going to ruin the people but the same people are not saying anything while the government is 'giving lakhs of crores of rupees to the big business' and 'privatising huge public sector companies,' Gandhi alleged.
He also said implementation of the MGNREGA scheme was the major reason for the 'tremendous economic growth' during the UPA period.PTI TGB BN BN BN