19/04/2015 2:11 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Rahul Gandhi: Changes To The Land Acquisition Bill Is A Cause Of Concern For All

Congress party Vice President Rahul Gandhi interacts with farmers outside his residence in New Delhi, India, Saturday, April 18, 2015. Gandhi will lead a farmers’ rally on Sunday against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s Land Acquisition Bill, calling it anti-farmer in a country where agriculture is the main livelihood for more than 60 percent of the 1.2 billion people. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

NEW DELHI — Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said the nation's farmers were living in fear and were convinced that the government of the day has forgotten them and their contributions to India's welfare.

Launching a direct broadside against the NDA Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul, who has just returned after a 56-day sabbatical, said, "farmers are afraid of the changes that are being introduced to the (land) bill we had brought in 2013. Today, when a farmer goes to bed, he doesn't know what will happen to his land the next day. He is living in fear."

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, however, praised the farmers for attending the rally, saying that their presence in such large numbers had strengthened her and the party's resolve to take on the NDA regime and PM Modi on the issue of the Land Acquisition Bill as well as other "anti-poor policies".

"We are here to send a strong message to the Prime Minister and his government: Ab bahut ho chuka hai (enough is enough)," she said.

She said it was unacceptable for the NDA regime and Prime Minister Modi not to do anything to ease the misery of the farmers affected by crop failure and unseasonal weather.

"Unseasonal rain has destroyed the lives of the farmers and the Modi Sarkar has done nothing. The relief that is being announced for farmers is now next to nothing. It feels as if they are rubbing salt in your wounds," the Congress president said.

"The BJP is conspiring against the farmers. They have introduced amendments to a law that they had consented to, and is pro-farmer. The amendments are being made to benefit corporates and industrialists," she stated further.

Rahul on the other hand, went on to claim that the Congress Party has always fought for the rights of farmers and provided them with timely help to overcome their crop-related losses.

"Whenever the Congress Government could help the farmers, we did it. We waived off farmers' loans worth 70,000 crore rupees. We brought in MNREGA for the labourers. Whatever we did, we did for the poor. We have always worked for the poor and the weak, and we will continue to fight their battle," Rahul said.

Criticizing Prime Minister Modi for his government's "anti-poor and anti-farmer" policies, Rahul said, "The Prime Minister does not understand the power of the farmers. Words uttered by Modiji abroad, about cleaning 50 years of filth, don't befit him or the office of the Prime Minister."

Rahul cited the plight of miners in Australia as an example of what he called the wrong policies of the NDA Government.

"I will take you to Australia, to the site of the largest diamond mine. They took me to meet the families who had been displaced by the mine. When I went there, I saw five labourers, and I was told the land of the mine belonged to them. I was told, 'We trained them and gave them jobs.'

He maintained that Prime Minister Modi had won the 2014 general elections with the help of money provided to him by industrialists, and now, he would use the money accrued from the farm lands sold to pay off his debts.

"Modiji took loans from industrialists when he was fighting the elections, and to pay them back, he will give them your land," Rahul said. "In the Gujarat model, Modiji showed industrialists that he can snatch away land from farmers easily," he added.

"Earlier, they (the BJP) would take your land and not pay you. We changed that. We offered farmers four times the market rate. The BJP did away with the consent clause, which enabled farmers to give consent before their land is taken away from them. The Congress has always fought for the rights of farmers and under Soniaji's leadership, we will be successful," he said.

Referring to the NDA regime much promoted 'Make in India' initiative, Rahul said, "Make in India' is Modiji's dream that will not work. They will take away your land and you will have no other employment. If they really want to 'Make in India', then why have they changed the five-year clause? We had said if nothing is built on acquired land in five years, it will be given back to the farmers."

"The Congress will stand with you. If they try to take your land, we will be there. You will see Congress workers there, you will see me there," Rahul added.

Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said that Prime Minister Modi had been exposed for not fulfilling his electoral promise to work for the farmers and the poor.

"During the poll campaign, Modiji used to go around saying they will work for farmers, but nothing of that sort has happened. The (NDA's) ordinance against the 2013 bill that the UPA introduced was and is aimed at wiping out all benefits for farmers. We will fight against these laws," he said.

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