The rally is significant as it is being held on the eve of the second phase of the Budget session of Parliament at a time when almost the entire opposition has joined ranks against the ordinance, which is being dubbed by them as “anti-farmer and pro-corporate”.
Lakhs of farmers from all over the country are expected to attend the rally, being held at the historic Ramlila ground in the national capital, which Congress is planning to turn into a mega event seeking to exploit the strong sentiments in the countryside over the issue.
Party general secretary Digvijay Singh told reporters after a meeting of AICC General Secretary, PCC Chiefs and CLP leaders presided by party veteran A K Antony.
Singh said lakhs of farmers are expected to participate in the protest action with several states planning to bring large contingents, especially those bordering Delhi like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.
The party had earlier booked Ramlila ground for April 12 but postponed the event by a week.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi will address the rally as also all prominent leaders of the party, Singh said.
Asked whether Rahul Gandhi, who continues to be on a month -long sabbatical, will be attending, Singh remarked “all senior leaders will participate in it. Is he not among senior leaders? Rahul is also among the senior leaders”.
Congress chief had last week rejected government’s offer for a dialogue, saying it was a “mockery” as the BJP regime had unilaterally imposed the land ordinance.
Dubbing the bill as anti-farmer, she had accused the government of “bending over backwards” to favour industrialists.
Digvijay Singh wondered as to why the Prime Minister did not hold talks with the opposition before promulgating the ordinance.
With the end of the consent clause, the real spirit of the law passed during UPA rule has been done away with by the BJP dealing a blow to the interests of farmers, Singh alleged.
Painting the Modi dispensation as anti-farmer, he said Congress President has told the government that there was absolutely no need to make any changes in the bill passed during the UPA tenure after evolving a consensus.
He alleged that the farmer is hit hard with the government not speeding up procurement of grains under the Minimum Support Prices scheme.
Accusing the government of attempting to drastically reduce the food subsidy, he said this was evident from the fact that only 3.5 million tonnes of paddy has been procured for public distribution system as against the usual 18 million tonnes.
Such a move, he alleged, would adversely affect the food security for the poor.
Besides, he regretted that the government was not coming forward to provide relief to farmers in various parts of the country affected by unseasonal rains.
Taking a dig at Union Minister Nitin Gadkari who has written to opposition leaders for a dialogue on the land bill, Singh sought to know his locus standi as the issue falls in the domain of Rural Development Minister Birender Singh. “Why Birender Singh has not written the letters and why Gadkari has done so as he is only Surface Transport Minister,” Singh remarked.