New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was forced to “bow” on the land bill issue before the power of the “plough and hand”.
In a hard-hitting attack on Modi at the “Kisan Samman Rally” held by the Congress at the Ramlila Maidan here to mark the party’s “victory” on the land bill, Gandhi charged the BJP-led government with failing on all fronts.
In a speech in Hindi, Gandhi said Modi has time only for his industrialist friends, and not for farmers and labourers.
She accused the government of trying to create tension and said prices of food commodities have risen sharply.
“The Modi government, as is its habit, is indulging in just talking and making speeches. It is encouraging activities which take away attention of the people from the real issues. It wants to create such tension which will be a danger for the country’s future and national unity. It is the biggest challenge before us which we have to face unitedly,” Gandhi said.
She said the country’s interest was supreme for the Congress party and it was prepared to make any sacrifice for it.
The Congress chief said Modi overlooked the seriousness of the agitation against the “black” land ordinance, but “had to bow his head” when the “force of hand and plough combined together”.
The hand is the election symbol of the Congress and the plough is associated with the farming community.
She said the Congress’s victory on the land bill was not of an individual but of all those who took part in the struggle.
“They wanted to snatch land through the land ordinance. You (farmers) toil hard to meet our requirements of food. You are not only our food-givers but makers of our destiny,” she said.
The Modi government allowed its ordinance to lapse following stiff opposition from the Congress to changes in the 2013 Act on land acquisition which was passed during the United Progressive Alliance government.
The new land bill of the National Democratic Alliance government is being examined by a joint committee of parliament but the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has already made significant changes in its stance on the legislation by relenting on crucial clauses such as consent and social impact assessment.
Gandhi said the struggle against the land bill has not ended but “the battlefield has shifted to the states”.
“The prime minister has failed at the Centre (to change the land law) and now wants to bring the same (changes) through the states. If we are not alert, the struggle will go in vain and you will lose your land,” Gandhi said.
She said farmers were facing many problems, including drought and shortage of seeds and fertiliser.
“While the UPA government provided a loan waiver to farmers of Rs.72 lakh crore, the Modi government, instead of helping them, has provided tax benefit of Rs.40,000 crore to foreign capitalists,” Gandhi said.
“It seems he (Modi) has no interest or time to solve your problems. If he has hours (of time), it is for industrialists. And yes, he has a lot of interest for foreign visits,” Gandhi added.
The Congress president said Modi had made lofty promises and the youth of the country was looking for employment.
“What happened to your promise? It seems you have closed your ears and eyes. The government has failed in every field.”
She said Modi accuses the Congress of being an impediment in development to take attention away from his government’s failures.
“Such remarks evoke laughter and a sense of pity in me. I want to ask him where were people of his ideology when freedom was being fought. Our party which has fought for freedom, can it be an impediment to progress,” Gandhi asked.
She said the party will come in the way of the government for any move against the interests of farmers, labourers and the common man.
“If development means benefiting a few, we will oppose it. Today, there is no such section whose problems have not increased manifold. Every person is facing difficulties,” Gandhi said.