New Delhi, Sep 26 (PTI) Stepping up its attack on the Centre over the farm bills passed by Parliament, the Congress on Saturday ran a social media campaign 'Speak up for farmers', with Rahul Gandhi demanding the government withdraw the proposed legislations and give a guarantee on MSP.
The three bills were passed by both houses of Parliament during the Monsoon Session and are awaiting presidential assent.
In a video message as part of the Congress' 'Speak up for farmers' campaign, Gandhi told farmers that they were being persistently 'attacked'.
'First demonetisation, then GST, then you were not given a single rupee at the time of coronavirus, attempt was being made to kill you (farmers), you are being made a slave of corporates, and now these three deadly bills,' Gandhi said in his video message.
These bills are aimed at finishing off farmers and hurting them, he alleged.
'We are standing with you (farmers) and together we will stop these bills,' Gandhi said.
'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 guarantee on MSP (minimum support price) to farmers,' the former Congress chief said.
As part of the campaign, several Congress leaders such as Priyanka Gandhi, K C Venugopal, P Chidambaram, Ahmed Patel, Salman Khurshid, Tariq Anwar, Sachin Pilot and Shashi Tharoor, posted videos expressing support for farmers and calling for the withdrawal of the bills.
The video messages of Congress leaders were posted on the party's official Twitter handle with the hashtag 'SpeakUpForFarmers'.
Farmers from all over the country are unitedly raising their voices against the new agricultural bills, Priyanka Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
'No provision of MSP in the bills, contract farming and mandi system being ended is like hitting the hard work of the farmers with an axe,' she said.
'Today, the whole of India is united against this injustice,' Priyanka Gandhi said.
Congress' general secretary organisation, Venugopal, said, 'The hurry in passing these bills is only to favour the BJP's crony capitalist friends... The Congress party is taking this agitation throughout the country to support our farmers.' Chidambaram, in his remarks, said that the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act is a safety net for a large section of farmers.
'The MSP is a price signal and the market takes a signal from MSP,' he said.
These bills will eliminate MSP as a price signal and in the course of time the APMCs will wither and vanish, the former Union finance minister claimed.
Tharoor said the fact is that the farmers of the country are in a state of agitation and concern as the three bills have been 'bulldozed' through Parliament by the BJP government.
In an earlier tweet, Gandhi said, 'Let us raise our voices together against the atrocities and exploitation of farmers by the Modi government.' 'Join the 'Speak up for farmers' campaign through your video,' he said, tagging a video in which the party called for the withdrawal of the bills.
Later, in a statement, Venugopal said the Congress' massive campaign successfully amplified the voice of millions of farmers protesting these 'black laws' across the country.
'Over 250 farmers’ organisations keeping aside their political differences, were protesting against these oppressive legislations across the length and breadth of the country,' he claimed.
'For the benefit of a handful crony capitalist friends, the Modi government has unleashed a diabolical conspiracy by denying democratic discussions and voting in the Parliament on these bills,' Venugopal alleged.
He said that as an extension of concerted opposition to these 'anti-farmers' laws, the state units of the party will be holding protests on Monday.
On October 2, the party will observe “Kisan-Mazdoor Bachao Divas”. The party will hold dharnas and marches at all assembly and district headquarters across the country against the bills.
The Congress, on its official Twitter handle, alleged that the agriculture bills passed by the government in a 'highly undemocratic manner are nothing but an attack on our farmers and an attempt to transform agriculture into another revenue stream for their crony capitalist friends'.
Along with many other opposition parties, the Congress has claimed that the bills -- 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 -- will harm the interest of farmers and benefit corporates, a claim denied by the government.
The Centre has asserted the bills will be beneficial for farmers and increase their income. PTI ASK ANB ANB