Harish Rawat et al. riding on the back of a truck

© Provided by The Indian Express

After leading farmers’ protest against Centre’s agri Acts in Punjab, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi entered Haryana Tuesday where he said that his party would scrap the controversial farm laws within ten days of being voted to power. He also launched a belligerent attack on PM Narendra Modi over his government’s handling of the border stand-off with China.

After being briefly stopped at the Punjab-Haryana border by the state police, Rahul addressed two rallies at Pehowa and Thanesar in Kurukshetra district during his around five-hour stay. The rallies in Haryana marked the end of his Punjab, Haryana tour.

During his 10-minute address in Pehowa, Rahul accused PM Narendra Modi for “paving way for Ambani and Adani….first with demonetisation, then with GST and now with the three farm legislations”.

He assured farmers that when Congress comes to power, the three farm legislations will be thrown out “within 10 days”, and till then “Congress will keep agitating with the farmers”.

“This government did not do anything for the poor…You will recall that a few years ago Narendra Modi had banned Rs 500, Rs 1000 currency notes. He had said that it was a fight against black money. He made you all stand in the queue, took money out of your pockets, and then waived off loans of the country’s wealthiest people. After that GST came, small shopkeepers, small and medium businesses were attacked…Small shopkeepers, till date, have not understood how and why GST is filed…Then corona came, and thousands of labourers walked on roads…Narendra Modi did not help them. Small shopkeepers say their business are getting shut, but Narendra Modi does not utter a word…Farmer loans are not waived, but people who have billions of rupees, their loans and taxes are waived off,” Rahul said attacking the Prime Minister.

He added: “And now, farmers are being attacked. Narendra Modi said he was giving freedom to farmers. If you did it for farmers, then why are Haryana, Punjab, UP, and entire country’s farmers protesting? You thought that during corona times, farmer will not be able to fight. Modi ji, you were wrong. India’s farmer does not fear anything. He knows how to fight.”

Arguing that the system of food procurement was created to provide food security to the country, Rahul said: “India has thousands of mandis, lakhs of people work there, farmers go there, labourers go there, loaders are there, small traders are there. If mandis are abolished where will they go? If you face a problem, you can complain there, you can approach an official, you can go to police. In times to come…you will only get Ambani on one side and Adani on the other side. No police, no officer will help you then. Once this system of protection breaks, you will not be left with anything. On your land, big malls will come up, flats will come up, but you people, India’s farmers, your children, labourers – you will neither be able to enter those malls nor you will be able to purchase those flats.”

The Congress MP told the gathering that the protest was not about farmers alone, adding that once the system is broken, “what common man is purchasing today for Rs 10, he will be forced to buy the same for Rs 50”.

“When our government will come to power, we will throw away these legislations within 10 days. But before our government comes to power, we will struggle, we will agitate and raise farmers’ voice and oppose these three farm legislations,” he said.

Former CM Bhupinder Hooda, who also rode on the tractor along with Rahul, told The Indian Express: “Paddy is not being procured at MSP. Farmers are being forced to sell it for Rs 1,600 to 1,700 per quintal, while the price is Rs 1,880 per quintal. Farmers are not even getting MSP for maize.”

‘UPA would have thrown China out’

As the tractor march made its final pit-stop at Thanesar, Rahul also brought up the border stand-off with China to attack the Prime Minister.

“Chinese army comes and kills our soldiers in India and PM says nobody took over our land,” said Rahul, adding: “How did China dream of this, that it can come inside India and capture our land. How did China get this courage? I will tell you. China is looking from outside. China knows that Narendra Modi has weakened India. China knows that during corona times, Indian PM has failed. China knows that Narendra Modi has weakened India’s farmer, India’s labourer. China knows that Narendra Modi has made employment vanish from India.”

“Had Congress been in power, we would have thrown China out. Our Army, our Air Force would have done it in 15 minutes. But the PM does not understand the power of this country, its farmer, its labourers. The PM just protects his image…gets pictures clicked,” said Rahul.

He added: “I think, China will stay put inside our territory, till UPA is voted to power…The day UPA government returns, we will throw China out.”

Drama at Haryana-Punjab border

Earlier, Rahul 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. As Rahul stopped his tractor and said that he would sit there at the border, HPCC chief Kumari Selja spoke to senior Haryana Police officers after which Rajesh Duggal, SP, Kurukshetra, who was there on the spot, eventually allowed the rally to enter Haryana.

From the border till Pehowa mandi, besides Rahul Gandhi, Kumari Selja, Randeep Surjewala, Deepender Hooda and several other Haryana Congress leaders took turns driving the tractor for about two-km out of the 15 km stretch. Rest of the stretch was covered in SUVs, apparently to cover the time.

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