The ruling Congress in Punjab will organise protests at all district headquarters of the state on November 15 over the "anti-people policies" of the Narendra Modi government and the issue of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), comprising the 10-member ASEAN bloc and six other countries -- India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand -- is engaged in negotiations for a free-trade pact.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a visit to Bangkok where negotiations to finalise the long-overdue RCEP entered the final stage. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi launched a blistering attack on the government on the state of the economy on Saturday, and said the RCEP agreement will result in "untold hardship" for farmers, shopkeepers and small enterprises. The party's Punjab unit said the proposed trade deal was against the interests of domestic farmers.
The decision to hold protests at district headquarters on November 15 was taken at a meeting of the district presidents of the Congress (DCC) presided over by the party's state unit chief Sunil Jakhar. In the meeting, duties were also assigned to party functionaries to befittingly commemorate Sikhism founder Guru Nanak Dev's 550th birth anniversary, a party release said. Jakhar told the meeting that the people were suffering "due to the irrational economic policies of the Narendra Modi government".
"Industries are shutting and unemployment is at its highest rate. Instead of getting new jobs for youth, job losses are taking place. Farming is going through its worst phase," he said. The Punjab Congress chief said the party had planned protests across the state on November 15 to highlight the "anti-people" policies and the "failures" of the Modi government on various fronts. About RCEP, Jakhar said after the agreement, the financial condition of farmers and milk producers in India will be under immense stress.
"Under this agreement, cheap grain and milk products from abroad would flow in freely. This will have a direct adverse impact on Indian farmers who were not getting full value for their produce already. After the implementation of this agreement, the peasantry of the country will be worst hit," he claimed. Farmers are already suffering due to "anti-farmers" policies of the Modi government "but with this treaty, the government plans to make the farmers beggars", Jhakhar alleged and asked BJP ally the Shiromani Akali Dal why are they silent when farmers' interests are at stake.
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