Opposition parties and farmers’ groups across the country, including the Congress and the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), have announced plans to vigorously protest the two controversial farm bills cleared by the Rajya Sabha on Sunday – amid pandemonium inside parliament and fierce agitations outside.
The bills, which have already cleared the Lok Sabha (voice vote after an opposition walk out) now only need President Ram Nath Kovind’s signature to become law.
The Congress, whose MPs Rahul Gandhi and Partap Singh Bajwa called the bills “death warrants” for farmers, will lead a nationwide agitation starting Thursday.
The agitation, according to news agency PTI, will include district-level protest marches. It will also include a hugely ambitious signature campaign – involving two crore farmers – to be submitted to President Ram Nath Kovind on November 14 – former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s birth anniversary.
“On October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri, we will observe ‘save farmers and farm labourers day’. We will hold rallies and marches in every state and district headquarters, asking for the immediate withdrawal of the farm bills,” Congress leader KC Venugopal was quoted by PTI.
Addressing the media Monday after a virtual meeting that was attended by Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Mr Venugopal also said: “The way the government is bulldozing… in Parliament is totally unacceptable”.
Friday is set to be red-letter day in opposition parties’ protests against the bills, with a number of rallies and demonstrations planned.
The BKU will hold a nationwide protest and carry out road blocks. “The farmers have lost faith in the BJP-led centre…,” its leader Rakesh Tikait said, calling the Narendra Modi government “anti-farmers”.
The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee has also called for a protest on that day According to PTI, at least 10 trade unions have offered their support.
The Aam Aadmi Party will back a farmers’ strike in Punjab on that day, one which has been called for by at least 30 farmers’ organisations. Punjab AAP will also hold a protest a day before that by forming human chains across the state.