Congress President Sonia Gandhi will address a farmers’ rally in the national capital in the second week of April, a move that comes close on the heels of her visits to states taking up farmers’ cause and party stepping up offensive against Modi government over the issue.
The decision was announced after top party leaders at AICC headquarters brain-stormed about the party’s strategy on the farmer front on Saturday and chalked out plans for the rally.
There was however no clarity on whether Rahul Gandhi will attend the rally or not as his month-long sabbatical to reflect on party issues is yet to come to an end.
There is speculation that he could be back next week but there is no confirmation.
“To give a voice to angst and grief of farmers, Congress has decided to hold a big Kisan rally in Delhi in the second week of April, which will be addressed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
“All Congress Chief Ministers and Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs will also attend the rally,” party general secretary organisation Janardan Dwivedi told reporters after the meeting.
The party has also set up a Committee to finalise plans for this “big Kisan rally”, which will be chaired by A K Antony with party general secretary Digvijay Singh being its convenor.
Clearing the air over speculations that the rally could be of some farmer organisation which Gandhi will address, Dwivedi insisted,”it will be a rally of Congress.”
Highlighting problems faced by farmers due to unseasonal rain, hailstorm and drought besides the issue of the controversial land ordinance, Dwivedi attacked the BJP government at the Centre and in states.
“Sensitivity and sympathy which should have been shown towards farmers by the BJP government at the Centre and in states is not visible.
“Then there are other issues like farmers not getting minimum support price (MSP) for their produce and lack of fertilisers,” Dwivedi said.
Noting that farmers are in great difficulties for some time due to various reasons, Dwivedi said that “besides the dangers” of the new land acquisition law, the farmers are also battling natural calamities in a number of states.
“The crops have been destroyed and farmers’ future is in dark,” he said.
The meeting was attended by former Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and most of the general secretaries of the party.
The Congress President was on a tour to BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Haryana to take up the issue of compensation and relief to farmers hit by the natural calamities.
The party has shown a pronounced tilt towards left of the Centre politics more so after its unprecedented debacle in Lok Sabha polls last year in which Congress got a historially low number of 44 Parliamentary seats.
Vowing to “fight” for their interests, Gandhi today asked the Centre and the BJP-ruled states to ensure timely compensation for those affected by unseasonal rains and hailstorm.
Seeking to strike an emotional chord with distressed farmers during a visit to the affected areas of Haryana, she termed them as ‘annadata’ and emphasised on the need to work unitedly for providing them succour.
Her visit comes amid increased focus of the party on farmers’ issues and its strident opposition to the NDA government’s controversial land bill which has brought opposition parties on one platform.
Gandhi had led a protest march by 14 parties from Parliament to President House on the issue on March 17 in the first display of opposition unity against the Modi government.
On March 13, Congress began a protest march from Bhatta Parsaul village against the new land acquisition bill, four years after party vice president Rahul Gandhi had launched an agitation against forcible land acquisition in 2011 in this village in western Uttar Pradesh. The agitation culminated in protest rally here on March 16.
Despite the protests, Government passed the bill in Lok Sabha with nine amendments but faces an uphill task in Rajya Sabha, where it is woefully short of majority.
The Ordinance brought on the land issue will lapse on April 5 in the existing scenario, unless some other way is found out.