New Delhi: Upping its ante against the Centre’s contentious Farm Bills, the Congress and other Opposition parties along with farmers’ organisations held demonstrations across the country on Monday with some protesters torching a tractor at the India Gate in Delhi. Also Read - Farm laws: Punjab CM asks state MLAs to accompany him for meeting with President
On the other hand, the farmers in Punjab continued their ‘rail roko’ agitation for the fifth consecutive day and said the protest against the three farm bills will be extended till October 2. These farmers under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee have been squatting on rail tracks since September 24 at Jalandhar, Amritsar, Tanda, Mukerian and Ferozepur. Also Read - Bihar Polls: Rahul Gandhi Accuses PM Modi of Not Talking About Problems Like Unemployment Faced by Our Country
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said his government would approach the Supreme Court over the farm laws and warned that Pakistan’s ISI could exploit the anger over the new legislations to foment trouble in the border state. Also Read - Bihar Phase 1 Polls Updates: 71 Assembly Seats Across State Record 53.11% Voter Turnout Till 6PM
“We will be going to the Supreme Court. Agriculture is a state subject but farm bills have been passed without asking us. It is totally unconstitutional,” Amarinder Singh said after holding a sit-in on Monday.
Accusing the Centre of snatching the rights of states, Amarinder Singh slammed the BJP-led Central government over the farm bills. “Will it (Centre) leave anything with them to run their states,” Singh asked.
Sonia Gandhi urges Congress-rules states
In another development, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asked states under its rule to bring in legislations to bypass the three Central farm-related laws that have triggered protests by farmers in the country.
“Congress President has advised the Congress-ruled states to explore the possibilities to pass laws in their respective states under Article 254(2) of the Constitution which allows the state legislatures to pass a law to negate the Anti-Agriculture Central laws encroaching upon State’s jurisdiction under the Constitution,” the party said in a statement.
Kerala MP moves Supreme Court
Significantly, Congress MP from Thrissur, Kerala, TN Prathapan on Monday moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of various provisions of the Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, one of the three contentious farm laws notified by the government.
Tractor set on fire at India Gate
Five people claiming to be members of the Punjab Youth Congress were detained after they unloaded a tractor from a truck in the high-security area at Rajpath, a few hundred metres from the President House and the Parliament, in the national capital and set it on fire at around 7 AM.
“On #BhagatSingh’s birth anniversary Youth Congress set ablaze a tractor in protest against the govt’s anti farmer bills,” the Indian Youth Congress tweeted.
Terming Congress as ‘anti-farmers’, the BJP slammed the Congress over the incident, saying it has “shamed” the country with its “drama” aimed at garnering publicity and “misleading” farmers. BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav said the farmers venerate their farm equipment and will not set tractors on fire.
Protest in various states
Apart from Punjab, the protests were also held in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana, Gujarat, Goa, Odisha and Tamil Nadu.
Nearly 100 Gujarat Congress workers, including state party president Amit Chavda and MLAs Baldevji Thakor and C J Chavda, were detained in Gandhinagar during protests.
In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Ajay Kumar Lallu and other party workers were held during the protest.
Hundreds of Congress workers marched in Kolkata carrying haystacks on their shoulders and submitted a memorandum to West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar, urging him to “intervene and ensure” that the laws were immediately repealed.
Centre issues clarification
The Centre has maintained that the laws would beneficial to the farmers as they would have the freedom to choose the buyers for their produce and get remunerative price. Also, it has stressed that the MSP system will stay.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Congress has been trying to do politics in the name of farmers, and it has been unmasked.
The protests across the country gained momentum after President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the three farm bills — The Farmers” Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.