Smarting from the criticism by opposition leaders and international celebrities over its handling of farmers’ protest, the Bharatiya Janata party on Wednesday accused former Congress president Rahul Gandhi of instigating farm leaders and alleged that he is using the protest for his own political gains.
“He is trying to incite people. He is the one who earlier said that there will be fire in the cities and it will go to the slums. Today, he has again threatened that no one will step back. This is an agitation of the farmers and they are saying they are not associated with any political party and this is not a political movement. So why are you speaking on their behalf,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said addressing the media.
Defending the government’s outreach towards the protesting farmers, Patra said those such as singer Rihanna who are commenting on the issue are not familiar with Indian democracy.
“There have been 11 rounds of talks with the farmers where ministers were present. The Prime Minister at the all-party meeting has assured that the agriculture minister is a phone call away, this is democracy,” Patra said.
“Both Rihanna and Rahul know nothing about agriculture; they know nothing about Rabi or kharif crops. Where were these people when Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in California was desecrated; he’s an apostle of peace across the globe none of these people tweeted about it then,” Patra added.
Global pop star Rihanna on Tuesday extended her support to the farmers by sharing a news report highlighting the internet shutdown aimed at crippling the protest movement. “Why aren’t we talking about this?”, she tweeted.
At a press conference today, Rahul Gandhi said the national capital was being converted into a fortress and questioned why the government was “threatening, beating and killing farmers”. He urged the government to have a dialogue and resolve the problem.
The Delhi police have used concrete barricades, barbed wire, spikes, trenches to cut off access to farmer protest sites at its border. There is massive deployment of security personnel around the protest sites.
“He should remember what happened on January 26. The whole world saw how the country dealt with it. The Congress then wanted to know why the Delhi police did not take steps. Why did the Delhi police allow people to reach the Red Fort is what the Congress and Rahul Gandhi had asked. Today when the Delhi police is making arrangements; the same Delhi police that showed patience and restraint, the Congress is again asking questions,” Patra said.
The BJP also accused the Congress of seeking the release of those who have been arrested for violence on January 26 even as these people had earlier been dubbed as BJP workers and sympathisers.
On Republic Day, the tractor parade to highlight the demands of the farmer unions to repeal the three new agriculture laws turned violent as protesters deviated from routes, attacked police, overturned vehicles and hoisted a religious flag on the ramparts of the iconic Red Fort.
“The Congress party in Punjab said those who have been arrested for inciting violence should be released immediately and they should be given legal aid from the Congress. The question is are these people from the Congress who scaled Red Fort and hoisted a religious flag? Earlier all the leaders of the Congress had said that these are BJP workers and their agents who were sent to the Red Fort to create unrest and create violence to defame the agitation,” Patra alleged.
To a question on Gandhi’s comment about the lack of leadership in the country, Patra said, what the Wayand MP wanted to say was that the Congress lacks leadership.
Delving into the past, Patra said In 1998 the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh had fired bullets at a farmers rally in the state and 28 farmers had been killed.
“Today Rahul Gandhi is trying to question us on what grounds? And Gandhi is accusing the government of killing farmers,” the BJP spokesperson said.