Congress takes fight over Land Bill to the streets, on marching to Parliament, Congress Workers lathicharged
New Delhi : Hundreds of Congress workers were stopped and manhandled by the police on 16th March, 2015 during a protest against the NDA government’s Land Acquisition Ordinance 2014. The difference broke out after the workers attempted to march towards Parliament from Jantar Mantar.
Congress workers were manhandled by the police in their attempt to force their way to Parliament to protest against the land acquisition bill, upping the ante against the contentious law that has pitted the opposition against the Modi government. The charge of canes and water cannons that injured many Youth Congress activists followed a demonstration at Jantar Mantar where the party resolved to oppose the land law.
Congress has seized the issue to portray Modi government as anti-farmer and pro-corporate. The party coined the slogan “kisan virodhi, Narendra Modi” that is likely to echo in coming days.
The protest, marking the culmination of three-day yatra from Bhatta Parsaul led by Youth Congress chief Amrinder Raja, was attended by party brass led by Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress President Smt Sonia Gandhi, MPs Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Ambika Soni, Kumari Selja and Jairam Ramesh, spokesman Randeep Surjewala, state chiefs Sachin Pilot and Ajay Maken, and young MPs Deeepender Hooda and Sushmita Deb.
In a show of strength, the party fielded a battery of senior leaders with India Youth Congress (IYC) president Amarinder Singh Brar leading the workers. The party’s attempt to put up a united face assumes significance between Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and a section of senior party veterans.
“There were many senior leaders and five former IYC presidents to back the agitation. We have been able to send out the message that the party is tapping both the experience of the senior leaders and the energy of the youth,” a Congress leader.
Senior party leaders Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shri Anand Sharma, Shri Jairam Ramesh, Smt. Ambika Soni and Ahmed Patel addressed the protesters at Jantar Mantar. “Soniaji has said she was always with them and will continue to back and support the movement,” Shri Ahmed Patel said reading out Congress President, Smt. Sonia Gandhi’s message.
“What Rahul started from Bhatta Parsaul (2011), I congratulate him. It was at his initiative that UPA had to think of amending the land acquisition law of 1894. But BJP wants to convert our law into the British law,” Shri Ahmed Patel said.
Taking a jibe at PM Narendra Modi for his “ego”, Shri Patel said, “We know how to shrink a 56-inch chest to 28-inches.”
He said nine months of NDA’s policies had made the farmers, who led the freedom struggle singing “sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil me hai”, to resign to their fate of suicides. “Why are they saying ‘khudkushi ki tamanna ab hamare dil me hai’,” he lamented.
On March 13, Mr. Ramesh had led a march from Bhatta and Parsaul villages in western Uttar Pradesh that became the epicenter of an anti-land acquisition agitation in 2011. The march reached Rajghat on 15th March, 2015 evening and ended at Jantar Mantar on Monday afternoon.
Other party leaders who attended the protest included Shri Raj Babbar, Shri Oscar Fernandes, Shri Randeep Surjewala, State PCC President Shri Ajay Maken, RPCC President Shri Sachin Pilot and Haryana PCC President Shri Ashok Tanwar, Haryana MPs Kumari Selja, Shri Deepinder Hooda. Promising to block the Bill’s passage in the Rajya Sabha, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad termed the ordinance an attempt to weaken the Food Security Law passed by the UPA government. “You continue protesting outside Parliament, we will try not to let the Bill get passed when it is introduced in Parliament,” the Leader of Congress in the Rajya Sabha said.
“For the first time we put power in the hands of the farmers from the hands of the collectors. Even the land labourers were given bargaining power through the law. It had the provisions of four times compensation. We essentially repealed the century-old law,” Shri Jairam Ramesh said.
Dubbing PM Narendra Modi as anti-farmer, former rural development minister Jairam Ramesh mocked, “One was ‘Sabarmati ke Sant’ who believed in a frugal lifestyle and today we have ‘Sabarmati ke mahant’ who wears suit worth Rs 10 lakh,” he said contrasting Mahatma Gandhi and Modi who both hail from Gujarat.
“With this Youth Congress rally, Modi’s black law will disappear. BJP’s anti-farmer face will be unmasked. Congress and farmers will win,” Shri Surjewala said.