During the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) meeting on Wednesday, party president Sonia Gandhi slammed the government over multiple issues such as the farmers’ demand for legal guarantee of minimum selling price (MSP), compensation for the kin of the farmers who lost their lives during the year-long protest against the three controversial farm laws, fuel prices, monetisation, vaccination programme and the civilian deaths in Nagaland. The Congress president asserted her party’s absolute support to the farmers and stated that the process undertaken by the Modi government to repeal the three laws was undemocratic, like the way the laws were imposed.
The CPP meet supplements the protest by opposition leaders over the suspension of the 12 Members of Parliament (MPs). The repealing of the farm laws and Congress’ intensification of its attack on the government comes ahead of the assembly elections in the states of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, which played a significant role in leading the massive farmers’ protest.
Sonia Gandhi, during the CPP meet, accused the ruling government of failing to legally ensure fair selling prices of the agricultural products to meet cultivation costs. Lauding the “discipline and dedication” of the farmers’ protest, which eventually forced the government to scrap the laws introduced in 2020, Gandhi asserted, “We are firm in our commitment to stand by farmers in their demands for legally-guaranteed MSP, remunerative prices that meet costs of cultivation, and compensation to the bereaved families.” She continued, “I cannot understand how and why the Modi government is so insensitive and continues to deny the seriousness of the problem. It seems impervious to the sufferings of the people.” She stated that over 700 farmers have been martyred in the past twelve months and their sacrifices should be honoured.
Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of repealing the laws undemocratically, Sonia Gandhi said, “The government has finally repealed the three farm laws. In this government’s usual style, the repeal was done undemocratically just as their passage last year was pushed through without discussion.” She added, “Farmers and farmer organisations have been strongly protesting and agitating against these laws for the past 13 months. The Congress party has been pressing for their repeal along with many other Opposition parties. It is the solidarity and tenacity, of the farmers, their discipline and dedication that has forced an arrogant government to climb down. Let us salute them for their great achievement.”
Over the suspension of the 12 MPs after the Farm Laws Repeal Bill, 2021, was passed, Gandhi claimed that it “violates both the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Council of States”.
Further targeting the government over the high prices of essentials like edible oil, fuel and vegetables, Sonia Gandhi said, “The steps it has recently taken to reduce petrol, diesel, and cooking gas prices are totally insufficient and inadequate. The prices of edible oils, pulses and vegetables are burning a hole in the monthly budget of every household. The rising prices of cement, steel and other basic industrial commodities also does not bode well for economic recovery.” She added, “The Modi government is busy selling off precious national assets like banks, insurance companies, public sector enterprises, railways and airports.”
Over the deaths of the 14 civilians in Nagaland during an Indian Army operation on December 4 and 5, Gandhi said, “The government expressing regret is not enough! Justice for the families of the victims has to be ensured.” Citing the escalating border tensions, she added, “It is extraordinary that the Parliament has been given no opportunity whatsoever so far to have a discussion on the challenges we continue to face on our borders. Such a discussion would have also been an opportunity to demonstrate a collective will and resolve.”
Sonia Gandhi further accused the government of destroying the economy with demonetisation and not taking adequate measures to recover it even after several people lost their livelihoods and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) got crippled during the pandemic.
“First, the Prime Minister destroyed the economy with his demonetisation move of November 2016. He is continuing on that disastrous path but calling it monetisation. Now, he is dismantling the public sector built up over the past seventy years with strategic, economic and social objectives in mind. All that has been given the go by. And what will happen to employment of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, for instance, if public sector companies and institutions continue to be privatised?” she said, further questioning, “A few big companies making profits or the stock market rising to new heights does not mean that the economy is recovering. And if profits are being made by shedding labour, what social value do these profits have?”
Gandhi also mentioned that the government has celebrated the 100-crore mark for COVID-19 vaccinations but has not mentioned that it was for the single dose of vaccination and that the country is yet to meet its target to inoculate everyone eligible by the end of the year. “Efforts must clearly be intensified — the daily vaccination dose has to increase four-fold so that even 60 percent of the population is covered with both doses,” she said.
The Congress president underlined that there are several other issues that the opposition parties want to raise but the government leaves “no opportunity whatsoever” to hold debates on any issues.