In a 15-minute address amid strident protests by the treasury benches who insisted he should speak on the budget, Rahul alleged the Modi government was following the decades old “Hum Do, Humare Do” slogan popularised during the national family planning programme to promote “two corporate friends” who are steadily taking control of India’s Rs 40 lakh crore agriculture business and rendering farmers, small traders and labourers jobless.
The farm laws had been discussed as part of the motion of thanks to the President’s address, and BJP members insisted he speak on the Budget. While he did not name the corporates, Rahul said everyone knew the “four people running the country”, and added that the intent of the three farm laws was to ensure that all purchase and storage of food grains in the country is monopolised by two corporate entities. Farmers and small traders and labourers would be robbed of their rights to move court when denied their due. He also alleged the new farm laws will end the ‘mandi’ system, destroy India’s food security, hurt the rural economy and stymie India’s ability to produce jobs.
“The intent of these three laws is to allow industrialists to buy unlimited quantities of food grains and hoard them as much as they want….The Prime minister said he has given options. Yes, he has given three options; hunger, unemployment, suicide. These are the three options he has given,” Gandhi said.
Despite interventions by Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi to speak on the budget, Gandhi said he will only talk on the farmers’ issue since the opposition’s request for a separate, structured debate on farmer issues was denied by the government.
The former Congress chief added that the farmer-led ‘andolan’ would show the way to the rest of the country to rise against the ‘Hum do Humare Do’ culture and with the farmers not moving back an inch, the government would be forced to repeal the laws.
He also prompted Congress, TMC and DMK MPs to observe two minutes of silence to mourn the alleged deaths of 200 farmers during the ongoing farmer protests, claiming he was paying respects when the government failed in its duty to do so. Speaker Om Birla, however, was not impressed and said running the House was his responsibility and such conduct by a senior member of the House was “inappropriate”.
Intervening on behalf of the government, MoS finance Anurag Thakur alleged Rahul spoke on farm laws because he was unprepared to speak on the Budget. He said Gandhi spent little time in the House and in India, adding that it was the Congress family that had practised the ‘Hum Do, Humare Do’ slogan in spirit, allowing one family to corral all benefits during the Congress regime.
Thakur also said though Gandhi claimed to be speaking for the poor, it was PM Modi who had brought tangible development to the lives of the country’s poor. “The Budget shows a hope – a hope to build new India, a hope for stronger India, a hope to build Aatmanirbhar Bharat and I would like to thank the Finance Minister because this is going to set the path to make India an economic & manufacturing powerhouse,” Thakur said.
In his counter to Gandhi, Thakur also rubbished claimed that the mandi system or the Minimum Support Price system would be dismantled, arguing that they had each been strengthened under Modi. “We have ensured that even at the time of an unprecedented crises, the reforms we have brought have not reduced,” he said.