Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday night hailed the Modi government’s decision to cancel the three controversial farm laws, calling it “the victory of the struggle and willpower of 62 crore farmers and farm labourers (and) sacrifices of more than 700 farmer families”.
The “anti-farming laws have lost and the annadata (farmer) has emerged victorious”, she said, slamming the “anti-farmer, anti-labourer conspiracy… (and) arrogance of dictatorial rulers”.
Mr Gandhi also underlined the importance of the MSP system for the farmers – something farmer leaders have said they will continue to protest for even after the three laws are repealed.
“After almost 12 months of Gandhian agitation, today is the victory of the struggle and willpower of 62 crore farmers and farm labourers… sacrifices of more than 700 farmer families have paid off… Today is the victory of truth, justice and non-violence,” she said.
“Today, the anti-farmer, anti-labourer conspiracy hatched by the people in power has been defeated and the arrogance of the dictatorial rulers too. Today, the three anti-farming laws have lost and the annadata has emerged victorious,” Mrs Gandhi declared.
The Congress chief emphasised the importance of MSP – farmers have demanded legal guarantees for the price support system in addition to the scrapping of the “black” laws.
“… according to the Government of India, the average income of the farmer has come down to Rs 27 per day and the average debt burden is Rs 74,000… the government needs to think again on how farmers can get the fair price for their crop by way of MSP,” she said.
MSPs are critical in helping farmers weather the vagaries of farming – these risks include bad weather, demand volatility, natural disasters, infestation by pests, etc.
The government had said it would only offer a written (non-binding) offer on this count.
Farmers protesting the laws have welcomed the decision but have underlined their determination to get legal guarantees for MSP before backing down. They had expressed fears MSPs would be scrapped under one of the (to-be-cancelled) laws, something the government had denied.
Mrs Gandhi also took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, particularly over the way the laws were passed in September last year – amid ruckus in Parliament as opposition parties accused the government of steamrolling the laws through both houses.
“In a democracy, any decision should be taken only after holding discussion with all, the consent of all those affected and after consultation with the opposition. Hope the Modi government has at least learnt some lessons for the future,” Mrs Gandhi said.
Earlier today senior Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and former Union Minister P Chidambaram also spoke out on the cancelling of the laws.
A January tweet by Mr Gandhi has been widely shared online; in it he had said: “Mark my words, the government will have to take back the anti-farm laws.”