The Congress party has to fight and i assure you that we will fight till the end: Rahul Gandhi
Today, the farmers and labourers of India are perplexed. There are two reasons behind it.
First, our farmers and labourers are feeling that government has forgotten them. They have the feeling that the government works only for the corporate and isn’t concerned for farmers and labourers. Secondly, the thing what every farmer thinks is that the Land Bill, which we passed in 2013, the BJP government wants to change it. You all are also afraid of this.
Farmers give energy to India. Long before IT revolution industrial revolution, it was our farmers who laid the foundation of the Green Revolution which fed the whole nation. Whatever development is seen today is based on that foundation, on the labour of our farmers, on the blood and toil of our farmers. But the sad truth is; when our farmer goes to sleep at night, he isn’t sure what will happen tomorrow. He is not sure of his land whether it will remain his or be snatched away from him. He is worried about earnings for his daughter’s marriage. He spends his entire life in fear. I visited Vidarbha few years back when there was a drought and felt sad to see the bottles of insecticide after drinking which the farmers had ended his life. His children were there, his wife was there but their future was not there. The Bundelkhand region also faced drought and I visited that region too. People were migrating, fleeing from their places. Manmohan Singh ji was Prime Minister at that time.
He announced relief package for the farmers of Vidarbha. Whenever our farmers were in distress, we helped them from the core of our heart. We raised the MSP (minimum support price) from Rs 540 to Rs 1400 for wheat, Rs 560 to Rs 1310 for paddy and for sugarcane, we raised it up to Rs 220. When you were trapped in debt your people came to us, and told us that the doors of banks were closed for farmers. Big people get bank loans easily, while our farmers don’t; when we go to the banks we are pushed away. People sitting in opposition said that loans should not be waived. They asked us where we would get the money from to waive loans. Even then we went ahead and waived your loans to the tune of Rs 70,000 crore. We ensured that loan process was made easier for you so that you could be saved from the trap of money-lenders. We brought MGNREGS for the labourers and let them feel that they are equal partner in the country’s progress. We gave you the right of food. Whatever decisions we took, we always kept the interests of the poor of this country in mind. The tribal people of Niyamgiri invited me and while I was talking to 200 to 300 tribal youths, they said, ‘Rahulji, please look, this is our land, this is our mountain and this is our God.
We depend upon these forests. If you snatch this land from us and give it away to industrialists, we will lose our future”. I told them that their fight will be fought by the Congress and I would fight for your cause. And eventually, we won that fight. Before their victory, the same boys came to me again. When first time they spoke, they spoke affectionately but second time they were angry. In a closed door meeting, they said, “Rahulji, see, we tell you clearly. If you give that piece of land to Vedanta, then the very four hundred youths whom you met, would become Naxalites and would fight against India.” They said that government must work for the poor. Farmers of this country give their blood and sweat and have built the foundation of this country and government must not forget them. Modi ji went on foreign trips, he is the Prime Minister of India and what does he say? He said that he was cleaning the garbage of this country accumulated over last fifty years. Modi ji is the prime minister of India. When I heard this; I was pained. This is clear; he does not understand the power of the common people. The hard labour you toiled for the country, the blood and sweat you poured for past sixty years in making this country is not seen by him.
He does not see it. And most importantly, the words, which he used for this country on a foreign soil, do not behove the dignity of either Modi ji or the post of the prime minister. After Niyamgiri, I went to Bhatta-Parsaul and farmers from Bhatta-Parsaul also came to meet me. Today they presented a shawl to Sonia ji and former Pradhanmantri ji. I have an old friendship with them but when I met them the very first time, they were being attacked by the police. They were being beaten, threatened and killed. Why were they being tortured and killed? They were being tortured as they were fighting for their right and land. Mayawati ji was at the helm of affairs that time and thousands of acres of land of farmers and labourers were being taken away and given to industrialists and builders. I went on a “padyatra” in Bhatta-Parsaul. A woman came to me and said, “Rahul ji, my land has been taken and no one even informed me. When I woke up one morning at 4 am what I saw that my land has been encircled with ropes. Someone was standing there and he said that I have lost my land and now it belonged to him. I should move out from there.” We have been fighting for your cause. That Bill took two years in preparation and I remember when I talked to Jairam Ramesh ji on this issue, he said that he was doing this after consulting all stakeholders concerned. And the day when this Bill was passed in the Parliament, I saw BJP leaders supporting it by thumping the tables in the House. So now what has changed suddenly? What is the difference between that day and now?
Why did their leaders pass the Bill, clap, support and now imposing it through an ordinance? It is not through the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha, it is not through the Parliament; rather they are trying to impose it through the ordinance. Why are they doing so? This is the first question. And second thing which I have told you that Congress party has always supported farmers and helped them. We passed a better Bill and raised MSP for food grains. Why this BJPNDA government is not listening to the farmers? MSP for food grains remain same as it used to be. They have cut subsidies, farmers were beaten in Haryana and budgetary allocation for irrigation has also been cut. This government has halved the budget for agricultural development schemes and farmers’ grains are laying un-sold in the mandis (grain-markets). They always make excuses. They give one excuse one day and some other excuse another day but the price for your produce has not risen. Why are they doing this? I tell you why they are doing so. On the one hand, they are weakening our farmers and on the other, they are trying to kill the Land Bill we passed in the Parliament. I tell you what their thinking is behind all these things is. But before that I tell you a story of Australia. Some years back, Australian government invited me to Australia and I went there. They showed the largest diamond mine of the world spread in thousands of acres. That mine produces 25% of total diamonds of the world. They took me inside the mine and we walked through all the places. I was there for two days with them; then I asked them a question. While it was a huge stretch of land, in thousands of acres, I thought whom it belonged to? Where are they who were the owners of the land, which became the largest diamond mine? This mine produces one fourth of total diamond production of the world.
So I asked them who its owners were. The Australians told me, “Rahul ji, around three hundred families lived here”. Thousands of acres of land and 300 families lived on it. I again enquired, “Okay, you have built this mine, diamonds are being made and you are selling it to the whole world but what happened to those three hundred families? Where did they go? They said that Rahulji, we will let you meet them. You will see them tomorrow. Next day, I thought that since it was the largest diamond mine, people will come in suits and shining shoes and I will see them in big cars, perhaps in Mercedes. They will come in big big cars. But when I went there I saw that they presented before me five labourers. I asked, “who are they?” They said that they were the people who owned that land! And what do they do? “He is working as labourer in the mine. One is working in the warehouse. Another is a computer operator, whom we have provided training and the job,” they said. You (Farmers) have to understand one thing that the land you till and which is like mother to you, is like a goldmine in today’s India. In coming five, 10, 15 or 20 years its price will be more than gold. Keep in mind that this is a reality. I tell you how Modi ji won the elections. He took thousands of crores from big industrialists as debt. His (Modiji’s) marketing is done, the so-called “Gujarat model” is advertised in a big way; on television networks too. He has borrowed money from big industrialists. But how would he repay that debt? He will repay it by giving your land to them. That is why he wants to make this Land Bill weaker. He wants that farmers should not get good price for their land, should not get irrigation facilities and should be deprived of fertilizers. In a nutshell, farmers should not stand on their own feet. He wants to make them weaker and let them fall; so that he could snatch their land and give them to his industrialists friends. This is the truth. This is the thinking. What Modi ji showed in his Gujarat model, he showed to his industrialist friends that he can easily snatch land from the farmers of Gujarat. And he told these corporate bigwigs that if they supported him in prime ministerial race, he will do exactly what he has shown in Gujarat and now he is doing the same. He is going to weaken the foundation of India. See, we make a house, a building- but even before that we create a solid foundation.
Then we build walls and then the floor. What Modi ji’s model is that first weaken this foundation, put a ladder alongside the house, climb up the ladder and paint the house. And after painting the house tell the whole world that this house is shining due to me. But the house is being made hollow from within. This is his actual work and this is what he intends to do with you. He intends to do it with famers and with labourers. But you have to educate your children. When your parents fall ill; you will have to take them to hospital. You have got land and in coming days, this land will help you in the time of need. You must get its full price. The Bill that we passed, we kept four to five provisions. The most important thing was that we ensured that farmers get the price of his land that was equal to four times of the current market rate. Earlier, land was taken away from you without your consent and you were given pittance in return. We changed that. But there were four more important things in that.First was consent clause; we ensured that if your land is acquired it would only happen after your consent. Until and unless 80 percent of farmers would say “yes”, your land will not be acquired. But the BJP government has removed that clause. Secondly, we said that there would be an audit.
If land is taken from farmers and laboures; an audit would be done within six month to know as to what impact this has had upon the farmers. Then, action would be taken accordingly. There is a provision in the Bill if a government officer does not implement the law, action would be taken against him. But BJP has removed all these from the original Land Bill. And the last one is what we said perhaps shows the actual intention of this government. We had said that if a project is not started even after five years of land acquisition, the land would be returned to the farmer/s. The BJP government has also changed it. What was the need of changing it? If they really want “Make in India” to succeed, if they really want to create something, why did they change this five-year clause? I tell you, they changed this five-year clause just to give your land to rich people by creating a land bank. Mark my words; nothing as ‘Make in India’ is going to happen ever. They just want to weaken you, let your land be snatched and push his “Make in India”. And the truth is: it is just a day dream. The “Make in India” slogan is not going to succeed here. They will snatch your land on the one side while you will not get any employment on the other. You will not get anything; you will fall in the trap in-between.
We are firmly standing behind you. We fought for you in Bhatta-Parsaul and Niyamgiri. So, you should not worry for that. The Congress party will always stand for farmers and labourers. And wherever they attempt to snatch your land, you will find Congress party defending your cause and standing with you. You will see Congress leaders, Congress’ youth and you will see myself standing with you. This country belongs to farmers and labourers. Yes, we need development, we need flourishing businesses and we also need schemes like ‘Make in India’. We need manufacturing units and industrial corridors but at the same time we need our farmers as well. They need access to education for their children and need a promising future for them. We don’t need an India, where selected few get everything and our farmers are left penniless and poor. We don’t need a system where our farmers remain labourers and rest of the people fly in planes and travel in big cars. For this, the Congress party has to fight and I assure you that we will fight till the end. As we fought and won in Niyamgiri and as we got that Bill passed. Similarly, we will fight for your cause and will win this time too. Thank you very much. Jai Hind.