BJP's 'anti-farmer' attitude to the fore again in Kurukshetra: Congress

BJP's 'anti-farmer' attitude to the fore again in Kurukshetra: Congress
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New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday said the BJP's "anti-farmer" attitude has come to the fore again in Kurukshetra with the police lathicharge on farmers protesting against sunflower seeds allegedly not being bought at minimum support price, as it reiterated its demand of legal guarantee for MSP to the tillers.

In a swipe at the government, the Opposition party said the 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan' slogan given by former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri has been overturned by the current dispenation into 'Mare kisan, pite kisan, jai dhanwan' (Farmers die, farmers beaten up, hail the rich).

Three farmer leaders were detained and several of their supporters rounded up after farmers blocked a highway near Shahabad, Kurukshetra, in Haryana, for over six hours on Tuesday demanding that the government procure sunflower seeds at the minimum support price (MSP).

The blockade also affected vehicular movement on the Delhi-Chandigarh and Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar routes. Police used water cannons and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the protesters.

Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said the BJP's "anti-farmer attitude" is coming to the fore again and again.

Sometimes farmers are attacked by bringing Land Acquisition Ordinance and "black agricultural laws" and sometimes they are assaulted directly, as happened in Kurukshetra, he said on Twitter.

"We strongly condemn the lathicharge on the farmers who were protesting peacefully. The government should fulfil their demand for MSP and not try to brutally suppress their voice," Ramesh said.

At a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, Congress MP Deepender Hooda slammed the BJP over the Kurukshetra incident, saying what happened Tuesday was a "symbol of this government's betrayal of farmers".

They were protesting democratically but 'lath tantra" was deployed which has shamed the nation, he said.

The Congress demands that the farmers plea that sunflower seeds be bought at MSP be accepted and those arrested be given financial compensation, Hooda said.

The Centre should ensure that the committee formed following the repeal of the agricultural laws acts and legal guarantee of MSP is provided to farmers, he said.

He claimed that the Congress was the only party that had promised legal guarantee for MSP and said it would be included in its manifesto for the 2024 general elections.

He urged the farmers to be patient, saying the Congress has no expectation that the government would act but asserted that a change will come in 2024 and the Congress in power will implement legal guarantee for MSP

"We want to warn government it will have to answer for every lathi it has rained on farmers," he says.

The terms of reference of committee that has been formed following the repeal of farm laws does not talk about the legal guarantee of MSP, Hooda said.

"Mare kisan, pite kisan jai dhanwan is the slogan of this government," he alleged.

"This is an anti-farmer government and we will fight this from the streets to Parliament," Hood a asserted.

The farmers blocked the Delhi-Chandigarh national highway in front of the Shaheed Udham Singh memorial, about 25 km from Kurukshetra, following a call given by Bharatiya Kisan Union (Charuni) chief Gurnam Singh Charuni, who was among the three farmer leaders detained by police.

The protesting farmers claimed the government was not buying sunflower seeds at the MSP. They said they had given the government time till Monday to accept their demand but it did not pay heed.

The protesters claimed they were forced to sell their produce to private buyers at around Rs 4,000 per quintal as against the MSP of Rs 6,400 per quintal.

They also said they are against the government move to include sunflower seeds under the Bhavantar Bharpai Yojana. Under this scheme, the government will pay a fixed compensation of Rs 1,000 per quintal for produce sold below the MSP, they said.

Kurukshetra Superintendent of Police (SP) S S Bhoria told PTI that the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday directed that the highway be kept open for free flow and movement of traffic, without any hindrance.

However, at the same time, the court order made it clear that the administration shall exercise utmost restraint and use force to disperse the "mob" gathered at the spot only as a last resort.

A copy of the court order was handed over to Charuni but the protesters did not budge, the SP said.

Later, a warning was issued to the protesters to vacate the highway, but they refused. The police used water cannons and resorted to lathicharge to disperse the protesters, he said.