Opposition parties Thursday assailed the government over its handling of the farmer protests against the three contentious farm laws, saying BJP ministers believe in monologue and trenches have been dug, barbed wires put up and spikes installed when bridges should have been built to win over farmers.
Sanjay Singh, who was among three AAP leaders marshalled out of Rajya Sabha on Wednesday over unruly behaviour, today hit out at the central government saying farmers are being lathi-charged, called traitors, terrorists and Khalistanis.
“Talks happened 11 times, all failed. Government claims to be a call away, but doesn’t bother,” he said in the Rajya Sabha. Stating that about 165 farmers have lost their lives in the past 76 days, Singh appealed to the Modi government to “have mercy and repeal the three black laws”.
Expressing his solidarity with the protesting farmers, Trinamool leader Derek O’Brien accused the central government of failing India at many levels while asserting that the Centre “failed to uphold Parliament’s sanctity because of its arrogance”.
Former prime minister and JD(S) leader H D Deve Gowda called farmers the backbone of the country and said miscreants and anti-social elements were behind the events of Republic Day and all political parties have condemned their actions and agree that they need to be punished.
Stating that the farmers are not responsible for the violence, he said they should not be punished. He added that the Centre’s decision to put concrete walls at the protest sites won’t help and called upon the government to end the matter peacefully.
Gowda said the issue of farm laws is a state subject, and that the state government’s opinion also has to be taken.
Opening the second day of discussion on a motion thanking the President for his address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget Session, Manoj Kumar Jha of the RJD said the government has lost the patience to hear and any criticism is painted as anti-national.
“With folded hands, I request you to please understand the pain of farmers. In harsh winter you stopped water supply and toilet facilities, dug trenches, put barbed wires, and installed spikes,” he said. “Such aggressive approach wasn’t even heard of towards the neighbouring nations who came inside (the Indian territory).”
To the response to a tweet by pop star Rihanna on the farmer protest, he said the democracy will not be weakened by a tweet but by the approach of the government.
“Your backbone is the farmer. 303 (seats won in last general elections) did not come from cold storage or godowns but from these very people,” Jha said in a veiled reference to cold storage chain and godowns built by private corporates such as Adani Group. “We will support you but every world against you is not anti-national. Patriotism is not be worn on sleeves but carried in heart,” he said in his speech loaded with poetry and sarcasm.
Further pointing out that 11 rounds of discussion held by the government have failed, he said its ministers “believe in monologue and not dialogue”.
“They talk of having given this and that to farmers, but there is no place for language of charity in a democracy. The monologues should be ended,” he said in Parliament.
Jha also noted that the protesting farmers and critics have been painted as ‘Khalistanis’, ‘Naxals’ and ‘Pakistani agents’ and its citizens pitted against each other just like the agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
“You have lost the patience of hearing, you only dictate,” he said. “The governments are formed to build bridges but you have built walls,” he added, echoing Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.
He said, when trenches have been dug, barbed wires erected and spikes installed to cut off farmers, they have stripped off basic facilities like water supply and toilets.
“Who are you fighting? They are your own farmers,” he said. “The country is not made up of police, arm, Jan gan man and Vande Mataram. The country is made of relations and you have soiled those relations.”
Stating that Bihar now has only contractual labourers and not farmers, after it ended minimum support price (MSP) based crop procurement in 2006, Jha asked: “Bihar has been turned into a labour-supply state. You want Bihar model in Punjab and Haryana?”
Congress’ Digvijaya Singh also lashed out at the BJP government saying right from demonetisation to the CAA were blunders that hit the people hard.
Quoting former PM Manmohan Singh, he said “demonetisation was a monumental mismanagement, organised loot and legalised blunder”.
Terming the three farm laws “anti-farmers”, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lost the trust of the farmers and even the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh was opposed to some of the government’s moves and took a jibe at him asking whether he wants to keep relations with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
In a democracy, he said, if people’s sentiments are seen as revolution, then it is autocracy. “You have got majority but dissent is essence of democracy,” Digvijaya Singh said.
Meanwhile, 15 MPs from 10 opposition parties, including the SAD, DMK, NCP and the Trinamool Congress, were stopped by police from reaching Ghazipur border on Thursday to meet farmers protesting against the new farm laws. ( PTI )