Congress President, Smt Sonia Gandhi addresses the Kisan Rally in Delhi on 19th April 2015
You have come here from different parts of the country. I welcome you all. I know it’s the time of harvest. The farmer and his entire family spends long hours in the fields. Even then you have taken the time out and you have come here in large numbers, thank you all very much for that. By your coming here, you have boosted our self-confidence and our determination.
During the past several years and decades, you have given strength to India. You shed your blood and sweat and by your labour you have ensured that India could hold its head high in the world. Why have we assembled here today? We have assembled here today, so that we give a strong message to the Prime Minister and his government that ‘enough is enough’ and that you cannot ignore the needs of the farmers, farmlabourers by giving such a hard blow. We have assembled here, so that a strong message is given to the Modi government by the farmers of India, the farm labourers and the poor, that they have understood their hollow promises and their tricks.
The Modi government, by bringing this land ordinance, which is a matter of life and death for you, wants to keep you away from that. When there was our government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh ji, the minimum support price had been increased from time to time. In States like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the State governments were procuring paddy, wheat and other farm products and were also giving them bonus. This bonus was in addition to the MSP. What is happening now? The Modi government has made insignificant increase in the MSP, but on their directive the State governments have stopped the practice of giving bonus. Just see the indifference of the Modi government, that on the one side there is unseasonal rains and hail-storm, while on the other the farmers are burdened by the debts. Day after day suicides are increasing and the relief that is being announced is a mere pittance.
It seems that efforts is being made to sprinkle salt over the wounds. The situation today has become so bad that the programmes that were started to make agriculture strong by the UPA government, the allocation of funds has been reduced. In September, 2013 our government brought a new Act with the agreement of other political parties, in relation of the Land Acquisition, BJP too was included in it. About which they are now saying that this was a conspiracy against the farmers. Today, I want to ask them, whether their consent was not there? This accusation by them is totally baseless. You are making a conspiracy against the farmers, you have made widespread changes in this Act, which is against the interest of the farmers. The BJP claims that the changes which the Modi government is bringing, by that rural development, irrigation, security of the nation, electrification, more employment and more compensation will be given to the farmers.
I want to ask them if all these provisions were not there in the 2013 Act? They are there. This is just to misguide the farmers and to benefit the private companies by bringing these changes. Now, your land whether you want to sell it or not, ignoring it, the land will be acquired by the government for the private companies. Your land that has been acquired, and if it is not utilized in five years, thereafter, then when it will be returned to you, there is not time limit in this new ordinance, while there was a five year limit in our Act. They have also made changes, the Industrial corridor which is being made, and by acquiring one kilometer land on both the side of the corridor, they are not protecting your interest but the interest of the private builders. By their ordinance your multicrop land can also be acquired. Will this not drastically harm you economically? The way we had made this with the suggestions of the farmers’ organization, labour organizations, all political parties, particularly the BJP and the State governments, did the Modi government do this? There is only one reply, No, not at all. Prime Minister Modi had been saying so loudly that he wants to run the country by everybody’s cooperation and everybody’s consent.
This new ordinance will have adverse effect not only on the farmers and farm-labourers, but on the life of our brother and sisters who are Adivasis and forest dwellers’. Keeping all this in view and against the policies of the Modi government, we along with 14 other political parties gave a memorandum to the Hon’ble President, in which there is a demand about your security, of your interests. What has happened in the past eleven months? Today, the farmer is passing through a serious crises. Their plight is quite serious and of concern. As a matter of fact, the government is not prepared to procure wheat, on the other side pacts are being made to procure wheat at a record level from America and Australia. During the past few years the procurement price of paddy has come down by 35 percent, the price of cotton has come down by 25 percent, the farmers are not getting their arrears of sugar cane, there is a fall in the price of potato by 80 percent and the same is the situation of rubber.
There are other produces, the fair price of which is not being given to the farmers. As if this was not enough, because of the government policies there is widespread shortage of urea and it is being sold in the black-market. The problems of the farmers do not stop here, the government by way of rail and union budget, have cut down subsidy in the price of urea, because of which the price of urea too is going up. Because of these reasons the farmer is getting entangled in the loan net, more than before they are getting entrapped by the money-lenders. Where have those people gone, who during the elections were saying, that here forth the farmer does not have to commit suicide and nor would he need to go to the money-lenders. There is a big difference in what they say and what they do. These people just have something in their heart and some other thing on their tongue. Various projects of the UPA government have been given a new look, these projects today are being shown as the achievements of a single person.
The Act and projects which the UPA government had made for the needy people of the country, whether it is the Mahatma Gandhi NREGA, Food Security, Irrigation, Education and Health Sector, whether it is for children or for my dear sisters, there has been drastic cut in the fund allocation for it. This will affect the life of crores of countrymen. Does this not amount to playing with the sentiments of the people? In this not injustice? Is this their policy and their intent? I can say this with authority that the attitude of the Modi government, is totally against the farmers, labourers and the poor. From this historic Ramlila Ground, we are all filled with a new energy and with the same energy has emerged a strength, we will fight for you and all those with whom injustice has been done, we shall struggle for all the rights of all these people.
We will not allow the powers to succeed who want to destroy the legacy of the great values that we have inherited. We without fear will raise our voice against these forces. Though, we are out of power, but these efforts of our will not in any way make us weak. Today, from this Ramlila Ground this message should go out clearly and very loudly that ‘The voice of the farmer has never been suppressed nor it will be ever be suppressed.