New Delhi: Projecting the government as 'anti-farmer' and 'pro industrialist', Congress today declared full scale war against it over Land Acquisition Bill with Rahul Gandhi accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of bringing ordinance on it to pay back 'loan' of industrialists.
The Congress vice-president, who just returned from a two-month absence from public life, said the new Land Bill is not only against the interests of farmers but also the tribals.
"I tell you how Modi ji won the election. He took loans of thousands of crores from big industrialists from which his marketing was done. How will he pay back that loan now? He will do it by giving your land to those top industrialists. He wants to weaken the farmers, then snach their land and give it to his industrialist friends," he said addressing a farmers' rally here.
"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 tomorrow... he is living in fear," he said.
"Through the Gujarat model, Modi ji showed that he can snatch the land of farmers quite easily and convinced the industrialists that he can do the same in the whole country. This is Modi's model -- weaken the foundation, then attach a ladder to the building, paint it and show to the world that the building is shining," he added.
At the well-attended rally, the Congress vice-president, who had in 2011 launched an agitation on land issue from Bhatta Parsaul in Uttar Pradesh, made a strong pitch for pro-poor politics as Congress leaders sought to paint the Modi government as anti-farmer and pro-industrialist.
Referring to the 2011 agitation which had culminated into the passage of UPA's Land Bill in 2013 and his stir in Niyamgiri hills in Odisha to oppose the acquisition of tribals' land, Rahul launched a full throttle attack on Modi government for trying to change its provisions.
He alleged that the government wants to change the rules of the previous land law as it wants to "snatch" the land of farmers while there is no possibility of the 'Make in India' plan of the government to generate employment.
"Today the farmers and the labourers feel that the Government of India has forgotten them. They feel that the government belongs only to the industrialists and not to farmers. They are scared due to the fact that the BJP is trying to change that bill. Much before IT and industries, it is the farmers who laid the foundation of whatever has been built in the country. Today they are scared. Government should function for the poor. The farmers have built the nation with their sweat and blood," he said.
Recalling that BJP leaders in Parliament were thumping the desk when the UPA's Land Bill was passed in 2013, the Congress vice president questioned, "Why are they trying to bring a new bill through ordinance now? I want to ask them what difference has come between then and now? Why the BJP and the NDA government are not listening to the voice of farmers."
Rahul accuses govt of weakening farmers
Rahul also accused the government of not coming to the help of farmers affected by hailstorms and unseasonal rains and trying to weaken the farmers in general.
Recalling his visit to a diamond mine in Australia, where he saw the actual owners of the land of the mine being reduced to the status of labourers, the Congress vice-president warned the farmers against land acquisition saying they will lose both land and livelihood.
Sonia vows to fight for farmers' cause
Party president Sonia Gandhi accused the Modi government of adding insult to the injury of farmers by bringing the Land Ordinance.
Promising to fight for the farmers' cause without making any compromises, she said, "Modi government's attitude is totally against the farmers, the helpless and the poor. We have got a new energy here and we will fight for the poor and the weak. We will not allow those forces to succeed, who want to destroy the legacy of our freedom. We will fight without any fear against such forces. We might be out of power but we will not allow any leniency in our efforts in this direction."
Former PM Manmohan Singh said the new government had brought the land bill to hurt the interests of the farmers as he alleged that Modi had "sold dreams" to farmers and youth to win Lok Sabha polls.