Parliament proceedings | Farm laws only to benefit two friends, says Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi speaking in the Lok Sabha during the ongoing Budget Session of Parliament on February 11.  

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi raised a sharp attack on the Narendra Modi government on the three contentious farm laws in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, stating that these laws had been brought in just to benefit “two friends” of the Modi government to buy and hoard the majority of the agricultural produce in the country without legal recourse for farmers on pricing issues.

“Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken of the laws as giving farmers options for markets, what it actually did was give the options of hunger, unemployment and suicide to farmers,” Mr. Gandhi said in a speech that sparked a furore in the House.

Mr. Gandhi was speaking during the discussion on the Union Budget but said he would in fact only speak on the farmers’ issues since the Opposition, despite repeated requests in both Houses, had been denied a debate on the issue.

“Farmers are also part of the Budget and I will speak on farmers,” he said.

“Yesterday while addressing the House, the Prime Minister said the Opposition was talking about the agitation by farmers groups but not about the content and intent of the laws. I thought I would make the Prime Minister happy by speaking on the content and intent of the laws. The intent of the first law is to give one friend (of the government) the right to have all the crops of India. Who will be at a loss from this? The small businessmen, hawkers and those working in the mandis. The intent of the second law is to help the second friend (of the government) to keep 40% of the crops in his storage. The third law’s intent is that when a farmers goes before a corporate for a correct price on his crops, he cannot approach the courts if he is short changed,” the Congress leader.

He was especially sharp in his comments regarding apprehensions that crony capitalists would be given a free run of the agriculture sector and rights to hoard produce.

“Many years ago family planning had a slogan: hum do hamarey do (we two and our two). That slogan has come back to characterise this government — the four people who run the country — every person knows who these people are,” he said as the House erupted in chaos.

While treasury benches and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla asked Mr Gandhi to speak only on the Budget, Mr. Gandhi said he would continue to speak on farmers. Minister for Parliamentary affairs Pralhad Joshi objected vociferously, also naming two big corporate houses stating that Mr. Gandhi was going off topic and that he should table the proof of his allegations against these two groups.

“Prime Minister Modi had prepared the pitch for this for years, from demonetisation that killed the unorganised sector, to a faulty Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime and the forced exodus of migrant labour during the lockdown. It has destroyed the small and medium sector industry and our ability to create jobs,” Mr Gandhi said. He added that the farmers’ agitation would continue and that the “country will rise” as it was a national movement.

Mr Gandhi ended his speech by asking that two minutes silence be observed for farmers who had lost their lives during the protests. But only the Opposition benches complied. Speaker Om Birla reminded Mr. Gandhi that he was the presiding officer of the House and all such requests were to be channelled through him.

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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 5:52:12 PM |

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