Farm laws designed to destroy agri, repealing them only solution: Rahul

Alleging that the new farm laws are designed to destroy the agriculture sector and hand it over to "three or four crony capitalists", Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said repealing the legislation is the only solution to end the current deadlock and the government's attempt to "drag" the talks will not succeed.

Launching an all-out attack on the BJP-led government at a press conference, Gandhi said he was a patriot who did not fear anyone, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and asserted that he had a clean record and nobody could touch him.

"They can shoot me, but can't touch me. I am a patriot and I protect my country, and I will keep doing it," he said.

The Congress leader raised the issue of purported WhatsApp chats of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami, saying providing official secret information to a journalist is a "criminal act" and both the giver and the receiver will have to go to jail.

Gandhi said only five people -- Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Home Minister, Air Force chief and National Security Advisor -- were privy to the information, referring to allegations that the reported chats showed Goswami being privy to the Balakot air strikes beforehand.

"This is a criminal act. We will have to find out who did it, and both (the giver and the receiver) will have to go to jail.

"This process should start, but this process will not start because the prime minister may have given the information," he alleged.

He said the chats on the Pulwama attack in which the journalist said that "this is good for us" is distressing and an "anti-national act".

He also raised the issue of setting up of a "Chinese village" in Arunachal Pradesh and said India needs to send out a clear message to China, which is testing waters and will not sit silent.

He termed the situation with China as "very dangerous" and said India under Prime Minister Modi is not having any clear cut strategy on China.

"If India does not give a clear message to China and does not make a strategy - be it military, economic or geo-political strategy- China will not sit silent. China will take advantage of this and India will suffer loss and one will not be able to stop it," Gandhi said, when asked about the issue.

On the farmers' issue, the former Congress chief said a tragedy is unfolding in the country that will lead to the creation of monopolies in every sector, including agriculture, with a few individuals owning everything and the brunt of this will be borne by the middle class which will have to pay high prices.

There is just one solution that these three laws will have to be repealed, Gandhi said when asked about the impasse in talks between the government and the protesting farmer unions.

"The government's arrogance makes it think that the farmers will tire out and can be fooled but neither will they stop and nor can they be fooled," he said, adding that they are wiser than the prime minister.

The government is trying to mislead the farmers and drag the talks, he alleged.

Gandhi again alleged that "crony capitalists having a close relationship with the prime minister" were benefiting from the government's decisions.

"There is a tragedy unfolding in our country today, the government wants to ignore this tragedy, it wants to misinform people," he said.

He claimed that industries across the board -- be it airports, infrastructure, telecom, retail -- are having "massive monopolies" by three or four people.

"The thing to understand is that this is not about farmers. This is about the creation of massive monopolies in this country that are going to take away the wealth from the people of India. This is the crux of it," he said.

"The last bastion that was protected by monopoly is being overrun and the three new laws are designed to destroy Indian agriculture, by destroying mandis, by destroying Essential Commodities Act and by making sure that no Indian farmer can go to court," Gandhi said.

Gandhi also released a booklet highlighting the "plight" of farmers in the wake of the Centre's three farm laws.

He claimed the people had understood the implications of these laws which would result in three or four people owning the entire agriculture sector, farmers not getting the value they deserve and the destruction of the mandi system.

"Three or four businessmen will be able to store millions and millions of tonnes of wheat, rice, other essential commodities and my friends in the middle class, you will be paying prices you have never imagined," he said.

"I support the protesting farmers 100 percent and every single person in the country should support them as they are fighting for us," he said, adding that the country should realise this before it loses independence once again.

Hitting back at BJP president J P Nadda for his tweets earlier in the day criticising him, the Congress leader said it was an "attempted distraction".

The farmers know that it was Rahul Gandhi who stood up for them in Bhatta Parsaul and over the land acquisition issue, not BJP leader Nadda, he said.

"Is J P Nadda my professor that I am answerable to him. Who is he? Is he a professor or teacher of India, why should I answer him, I answer the country, I answer the farmers who can ask me anything," he said.

"I am not afraid of anyone, neither of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi nor of anyone else. I have a clean record and they can't touch me. They can shoot me, but can't touch me. I am a patriot and I protect my country, and I will keep doing it," he said.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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