Congress to hit the streets demanding withdrawal of Agriculture Bills

Venkat Parsa

New Delhi: After achieving the goal of jolting and shaking up the Modi Government in Parliament, by driving the wedge between the Ruling BJP and its Allies on the Farmers Issue, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has signalled the next phase of the programme, to hit the streets all across the nation from Thursday.

With an eye on the upcoming round of Assembly polls, the idea behind launching the agitation plan is to galvanize the Congress and put it into protest mode, through the intensive mass-contact programme to highlight the ‘Farmers Issues.’ Bihar Assembly polls are due in October-November while West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are set to go to polls in early 2021.

As part of its nationwide agitation from September 24 to October 31, the Congress will hold dharnas and marches at every Assembly Headquarters and at District Headquarters across India on the Agriculture Bills, demanding immediate withdrawal by the Modi Government.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi directed holding of a meeting of the Special Committee of Congress President, AICC General Secretaries and In-charges, to chalk out the plan of action. The meeting came up with the Blueprint of Agitation.

The Congress party has decided to launch a series of nationwide protests starting from September 24, 2020, in solidarity with the protesting farmers against what she calls the Anti-Farmers Bills passed by Modi Government.

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On September 24, AICC General Secretaries, In-Charges and senior leaders will hold press meets in all State headquarters against these ‘Anti-Farmers Bills.’

On September 28, PCC Presidents /CLP leaders (CMs in Congress-ruled States), along with all MPs/MLAs/Ex-Ministers/Ex- MPs/Congress Candidates will walk from PCC Office, or a designated point like Mahatma Gandhi’s statue, up to Raj Bhavan at every State headquarters and submit a memorandum to the Governor, addressed to the President of India, on the Agriculture Bills.

On October 2, the Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, the Congress will observe Kisan-Mazdoor Bachao Divas (Save Farmers & Farm Labourers Day).

On October 10, State-Level Kisan Sammelans will be held under the PCCs at every State Headquarters or at another important place in the State.

From October 2 to October 31, the Congress will collect signatures from 2 crore farmers from every nook and corners of the country after meeting and talking to the ‘Anndatas.’

On November 14, the Birth anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, this massive memorandum will be submitted to the President of India.

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The Congress plans to join hands with other Opposition parties to oppose the bills in every forum. Forcing the issue, the Congress wants every party to take a stand — is it with the farmers or is it with the BJP threatening the livelihood of farmers?

The two farm bills do not contain a clause that the price that the farmer will get from the private purchaser shall not be less than the MSP. Why is such a clause absent?

The bills undermine the only regulated market available to the farmer today, without creating thousands of alternative markets that will be accessible to the farmer.

The Bills assume perversely that the farmer and the private purchaser have equal bargaining power. They do not. The small farmer will be at the mercy of the private purchaser.

If a dispute arises between the farmer and the private purchaser, the machinery under the Bills is so bureaucratic and convoluted that no farmer will have the strength or the resources to fight the purchaser. The small and medium farmer will be ruined.

The bills undermine the three pillars of our food security system, say the Congress leaders.

Venkat Parsa is a senior journalist and writer based in New Delhi

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