India’s Reputation Hit: Rahul on Int’l Reactions to Farm Protests
“Your job is not to sell the country to one percent of the people. Your job is to protect farmers,” says Rahul.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has spoken out against the handling of the farmers’ protests and questioned the Union Budget presented by the Modi government, in a special conference held at AICC headquarters in Delhi on Wednesday, 3 February.
Taking a dig at the Modi Centre, Gandhi said that at the international level, the “reputation of India has taken a massive hit” with the heavy police barricading against farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders.
“Not only on how we are treating our farmers, but on how we treat our people, how we treat journalists. Our biggest strength, you can call it soft power, has been shattered by the BJP-RSS, their mindset,” he added.
On Farm Laws
Gandhi hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre about the controversial farm laws saying, “Farmers are India’s strength. Subduing it, threatening it is not the job of the government. It’s their job to speak to the farmers and resolve the issue.”
“Today, Delhi is surrounded by our farmers, they are the people who give us sustenance. Delhi fortress, why are we threatening, beating and killing our farmers? Why is the government not resolving this problem? It’s not good for our country,” added Gandhi.
“My constant request to the Prime Minister is, do your job. You’ve been elected to do your job. Your job is not to sell the country to one percent of the country. Your job is to protect the protesting farmers.”Rahul Gandhi
Gandhi said the farmers need more clarity from the Modi government on whether the laws would be repealed. “The PM is saying that the offer is still on the table to postpone the laws for two years. What does this mean? Either you believe that you need to get rid of the laws or you don't. I feel this issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible and the government needs to listen, as farmers aren't going away,” he said.
On Union Budget
The INC leader stated that the Union Budget is only beneficial to one percent of the population. Gandhi said, “I had expected from the Budget that the government will provide support to 99 percent of India's population. But this Budget is that of the one percent population. You snatched away money from people in small and medium industries, workers, farmers, and the forces, and put it in the pockets of five to 10 people.”
“You talk of privatisation, which will benefit them. India needs to put money in the hands of its people. Because if we want to restart our economy, it will only be through consumption. It is not possible from the supply side.”Rahul Gandhi
Referring to the Congress’s Nyuntam Aay Yojana, which was first proposed in the 2019 election manifesto of Gandhi’s party, he said, “If SMEs were given money and protected, the economy could start again. They keep giving money to the one percent saying it will restart India’s economy, it won’t.”
On Defence Budget
Gandhi questioned the Modi government’s commitment to the soldiers who are ‘100 percent committed’ and facing the brutal winters in Ladakh.
“China enters India and grabs our land. What message do you give them? That we won’t increase our Defence Expenditure. You raised it by Rs 3000 to 4000 crore. What message did you give? That you can enter India and do whatever you want, we won’t support our Defence Forces.”Rahul Gandhi
“What will our soldiers and our Air Force pilots think? That such a huge challenge lies ahead of us and our government won’t allocate funds to the forces? The country is not going to benefit from this,” the Congress leader added.
His remarks come shortly after the Centre on Wednesday slammed the comments made by foreign individuals and entities on the farmers' protests in India, saying, "The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible."
The statement by the Ministry of External Affairs came with the farmers' protest getting the international spotlight, as global icons such as Rihanna and Greta Thunberg tweeted about it.
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