Punjab is the epicentre of farmers' protests that were triggered following the passage of the three bills. Barring BJP, almost every regional and national party is against the bills.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday justified his absence from the Parliament during the consideration and passage of the three crucial farm bills (now acts). Gandhi was abroad when all three bills were passed in mid-September. Just two days before the beginning of Monsoon Session, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala on September 12 said that Rahul Gandhi would accompany his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi who was travelling for “a routine follow up and medical check-up”.
His absence from the Parliament perturbed some who said that the visit could have been deferred if it was just ‘a routine follow-up’. They also said that Priyanaka could have accompanied Sonia instead of Rahul Gandhi, whose presence would have given the impression that he and his party were serious about their protest against the bills.
Today, the former Congress president responded to all such criticism, saying that her sister could not go with his mother as few members of her staff had contracted coronavirus. “I was there with my mother, I am her son also after all and have to look after her,” Rahul Gandhi said. His response came right after Sukhbir Singh Badal’s Akali Dal targeted Gandhi and asked him what he was doing abroad when the farm bills were being passed.
Punjab is the epicentre of farmers’ protests that were triggered following the passage of the three bills. Barring BJP, almost every regional and national party is against the bills. Farmer community is a major constituent in Punjab politics and no party or leader can afford to be seen as someone to be siding with the BJP on this move. This was the reason even the oldest ally of BJP, Akali Dal, snapped ties with the ruling party over farm bills.
But now the fight is among the major parties in Punjab. While Congress is calling Akali Dal’s exit from BJP a “drama’, the SAD is accusing Rahul Gandhi and Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh of doublespeak because the grand old party in its manifesto had promised to abolish the state-run mandis, better known as APMCs.