NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the new farm laws will have to be opposed not just for farmers but for the future of the country, as he alleged that they were like a "stab in the farmers' hearts".
Interacting with a group of farmers from across the country, he said the GST and the note-ban were also attacks on farmers, but these three laws will prove to be more detrimental.
Gandhi also claimed that the new farm laws will foster an East India company-like culture and this time, a "West India company" has come in. "There is no difference between GST, note ban and these three laws. The only difference is that this is directly stabbing your heart with a knife," he said during the virtual meeting with the group of farmers. But I have clarity that this has to be opposed. Not for farmers, but for the future of India," he told the farmers in a nearly 11-minute long video shared on social media.
The Congress has opposed the new farm laws and party leaders and workers are protesting across the country, even as farmers' unions have launched a stir in Punjab and Haryana.
"The voice of farmers has a lot of strength. It is with the help of this voice that India attained independence and once again India will become independent through the farmers' voice," Gandhi said.
The former Congress chief said he had seen in Uttar Pradesh's Bhatta Parsaul village during his padyatra in 2011 that big businessmen wanted the farmers' land as well as their farm produce.
"The first fight I fought was of land acquisition and the entire media attacked me," he said.
"They said this is a fight against black money but it was not true. The purpose was to weaken our unorganised sector and the poor, farmers and labourers," Gandhi alleged.
Talking to him, Dhirender Kumar, a farmer from Champaran in Bihar, said farmers are being exploited in the name of these laws and they will be forced to commit suicide due to hunger.
He said the 2006 bill abolishing the APMC Act in Bihar should be brought back and be implemented in the state once again.
Ashok Bootra from Yavatmal in Maharashtra feared that no one would buy the farm produce at minimum support price (MSP).
"I feel any farmer who protests will be put in jail. In 1840, the East India company used to put out the price of cotton from England and the entire world would buy at that rate. But the businessmen would know of the price in advance," he said.
"The way East India Company used to do business, I feel the same pattern is being followed again. Farmers and small businessmen will be looted. When farmers will not get the rates for their produce, suicide rate will increase," Bootra said.
Replying to this, Gandhi said, "You want to say earlier it was East India Company, now a West India company has come in.
" The Congress leader alleged that during the COVID-19 pandemic, money is being given to big businessmen instead of the poor.
A farmer from Jhajjar said the farmers would not get anything in any case and they were just being "harassed".
"The government is trying to finish farmers, labourers and small businessmen," he claimed.
When Gandhi asked them about their future plans, Om Parkash Dhankar said, "We will sell everything and handover the entire system to big businessmen like Adani and Ambani, and we will have to do labour.
" "They will bring back the British rule and will destroy the country as they are privatising everything," he alleged.
A farmer from Vashim in Maharashtra told the Congress leader that today if Mahatma Gandhi was alive, he would have opposed these laws.
On being asked by Rahul Gandhi about the government's claims that the MSP system will not be discontinued, Sunil Singh, a farmer from Pathankot in Punjab said, "This is all 'jumlebaazi' and they are doing fraud with farmers.
" "This party has been for the rich and it will never think about the poor or small farmers," he alleged.