PLEASE SUPPORT FARMERS, WITHOUT FARMERS WE ARE NOTHING
New Delhi, February 4
Opposition parties on Thursday tore into the government’s handling of the farmers’ protest against three contentious farm reform laws, saying 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.
Opening the second day of discussion on a motion of thanks to 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 had lost the patience to hear and any criticism was painted anti-national.
“With folded hands, I request you to 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, adding: “Such aggressive approach wasn’t heard of, even 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 democracy would not be weakened by a tweet but by the approach of the government.
In a veiled reference to the cold storage chain and godowns built by private corporates such as Adani group, he said: “Your backbone is the farmer; 303 (seats won in last general election) did not come from cold storage or godowns but from these very people.”
“We will support you but every word against you is not anti-national. Patriotism is not to be worn on sleeves but carried in hearts,” he said in his speech loaded with poetry and sarcasm.
Saying that protests and agitations were the lifeblood of democracy, he contested the government statement of 11 rounds of dialogue having concluded with agitating farmers, saying 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.
Jha said critics and agitating farmers had been painted as ‘Khalistani’, ‘Naxals’ and Pakistani agents and its citizens pitted against each other just like the agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
“You have lost the patience of hearing, you only dictate,” he said, adding: “The governments are formed to build bridges but you have built walls.
“Who are you fighting? They are your own farmers. The country is not made up of police, arms, Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram. The country is made of relations and you have soiled these,” he said.
He said, “Bihar ended MSP-based crop procurement in 2006 and it now has only contractual labourers, not farmers.” “Bihar has been turned into a labour-supply state. You want Bihar model in Punjab and Haryana?” he asked.
He wondered what would have been the reaction if the JP movement would have happened during the present government.
Participating in the debate, Digvijaya Singh of the Congress lashed out at the BJP government, saying that from demonetisation to the CAA, these were blunders that hit the people hard.
Quoting former prime minister Manmohan Singh, he said demonetisation was a monumental mismanagement, organised loot and legalised blunder.
Almost 50 lakh people were rendered jobless and micro, small and medium enterprises were destroyed, he said.
Singh said the void between the Modi government’s promises and implementation was big and it could not win the hearts of people, whether the poor, farmers or labourers.
The senior Congress leader also accused the government of mismanaging the Covid pandemic and fuelling corruption.
Terming the three farm laws “anti-farmer”, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had lost their trust and even the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh was opposed to some of the government’s moves.
In democracy, he said, if people’s sentiments were seen as revolution, then it was autocracy.
“You have got majority but dissent is essence of democracy,” Singh said.
Former prime minister and JD(S) leader HD 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 had condemned their actions and agreed that they need to be punished.
But the farmers’ issue should not be mixed with it, he said, adding that the issue should be dealt with amicably.