Congress president Sonia Gandhi, addressing the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday, accused the Modi government of undemocratically repealing the farm laws, just the way they were enacted.
"The Government has finally repealed the three farm laws. In this government’s usual style, the repeal was done undemocratically just as their passage last year was pushed through without discussion," Ms. Gandhi said.
"Farmers and farmer organisations have been strongly protesting and agitating against these laws for the past 13 months. The Congress Party has been pressing for their repeal along with many other Opposition parties. It is the solidarity and tenacity, of the farmers, their discipline and dedication that has forced an arrogant Government to climb down. Let us salute them for their great achievement,"the Congress president said.
“Let us remember that more than 700 farmers have been martyred in the past twelve months and honor their sacrifice. We are firm in our commitment to stand by the farmers in their demands for a legally guaranteed MSP, remunerative prices that meet the costs of cultivation, and compensation to the bereaved families.
“I cannot understand how and why the Modi Government is so insensitive and continues to deny the seriousness of the problem. It seems impervious to the sufferings of the people.”
“The steps it has recently taken to reduce petrol, diesel, and cooking gas prices are totally insufficient and inadequate. As usual, the
government has passed on the responsibility for duty cuts to financially strapped State governments - when it itself has far greater
room for action. And all this while, the Centre persists with huge public expenditure on vain glorious projects,” she said.
“The prices of edible oils, pulses and vegetables are burning a hole in the monthly budget of every household. The rising prices of cement, steel and other basic industrial commodities also does not bode well for economic recovery. The Modi government is busy selling off precious national assets like banks, insurance companies, public sector enterprises, railways and airports.”
“First, the Prime Minister destroyed the economy with his demonetisation move of November 2016. He is continuing on that disastrous path, but calling it monetisation. Now, he is dismantling the public sector built up over the past seventy years with strategic, economic and social objectives in mind. All that has been given the go by. And what will happen to employment of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, for instance, if public sector companies and institutions continue to be privatised?
“Already lakhs upon lakhs of people, mostly young, have joined and continue to join the ranks of the unemployed.”
The Congress president said the government spokespersons have been talking about a revival of the economy for some time now but it means nothing to those millions of people who lost their livelihood during COVID or those MSMEs that were crippled not just by the pandemic but also the notebandi and a flawed GST.
"A few big companies making profits or the stock market rising to new heights does not mean that the economy is recovering. And if profits are being made by shedding labour, what social value do these profits have?" she asked.
On the issue of border tensions, she said, "It is extraordinary that the Parliament has been given no opportunity whatsoever so far to have a discussion on the challenges we continue to face on our borders. Such a discussion would have also been an opportunity to demonstrate a collective will and resolve".
The government may not want to answer difficult questions but it is the right and duty of the Opposition to seek clarifications and explanations, Ms Gandhi added. On the Covid situation, she said that the government celebrated the 100-crore mark for vaccination but didn't say it was for single dose of vaccination and the country is nowhere near the target of innoculating everyone eligible by the year-end.
"Efforts must clearly be intensified—the daily vaccination dose has to increase four-fold so that even 60% of the population is covered with both doses,"she said.
“Now the Omicron variant has reached our country. Our preparedness to deal with the changing situation is also being fully tested. I hope the Government has learnt a lesson from the previous waves of Covid-19 and is preparing itself to dealing effectively with the new variant," added Ms Gandhi.
On the Nagaland firing, she said,"I must also express our collective sense of deep anguish at the tragic incidents that took place in Nagaland, causing the death of so many innocent people, as also that of a security personnel.
"The Government expressing regret is not enough. Justice for the families of the victims has to be ensured at the earliest. Credible steps must be taken to prevent the recurrence of such ghastly tragedies," Ms Gandhi added.
"The outrageous suspension of 12 Opposition Rajya Sabha MPs for the entire Winter session is unprecedented and shocked us all,” the Congress chief said.It violates both the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States, she said.
Ms Gandhi also expressed solidarity with Chaya Verma, Phulo Devi Netam, Ripun Bora, Nasir Hussein, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, Rajamani Patel who have been sitting by the Gandhi statue every day.
"We stand in solidarity with them. I end by expressing the hope that attendance will be full and participation active,"she said.