New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being ”insensitive, arrogant and cowardly” in not paying compensation to families of the farmers who died during their agitation against the Centre’s farm laws and said he would present a list of such farmers in Parliament.
Addressing a press conference here, he questioned the government’s intent behind not granting compensation to the kin of the deceased farmers and slammed it for claiming that there is ”no record” of the farmers who died.
The former Congress president alleged that Modi was responsible for these deaths and claimed that the prime minister himself had accepted his mistake of bringing the farm laws and apologised. Gandhi asked why he does not have the dignity and humanity to pay compensation to the kin of the farmers.
Gandhi said even though the Congress government in Punjab was not responsible for the deaths of these farmers during the agitation, it still paid Rs 5 lakh compensation to the families of 403 deceased farmers in the state and provided jobs to 152 of their relatives.
He also claimed that he has a list of all the 700-odd farmers who lost their lives during the agitation against the farm laws and will table this list in Parliament on Monday.
”You yourself apologised and you are saying nobody died. This is not the way the prime minister of India should be behaving. This is a very unpleasant, immoral and cowardly way to behave,” he told reporters.
Noting that he did not understand what is the big issue in the government paying these people compensation, he said, ”You are so insensitive that you don’t understand the pain of these families.” He said the prime minister himself has said that he has made a mistake and has apologised to the nation. ”As a result of that mistake 700 people have died. Now, you are lying about their names, Why? Why don’t you have the decency to give them what is their due? The Government of India should pay the compensation and help these families,” he demanded.
The former Congress chief said they are facing an environment where there is huge joblessness and the government has not let them work for one year and now it is taking away their livelihood. ”And now you are saying to them you don’t exist.” ”They should be given compensation for humanity’s sake, but they don’t want to give it. Humanity is not there. If the prime minister thinks about those families, about their children, about their education and healthcare, he would have done this in one minute. But the prime minister is only thinking about his own image and position,” Gandhi alleged.
In addition to the list of 403 deceased farmers in Punjab, he said, the Congress has a list of 100 farmers from outside Punjab who died during the farm laws agitation and another list of about 200 deceased farmers has been compiled based on public records. The party later released a list of about 500 farmers who died during the agitation.
Asked about the remaining demands of the farmers following the repeal of the farm laws, Gandhi said, ”I don’t think the government will accept farmers’ demands” and asserted that ”its intention is not right”.
In a tweet later, he said, ”Modi ji only has the numbers of his industrialist friends. We have the names and numbers of the farmers who died during the agitation.” ”If you really want to apologise, then call these families, share their grief and provide compensation. The Congress government in Punjab did this out of humanity, even when it was not at fault,” he said using hashtags ”Farmers and HumanityFirst”.
”When the PM apologised for making anti-agriculture law, then he should tell in Parliament how he will repent? When will the minister involved in the Lakhimpur incident be sacked? How much compensation will be given to the farmers who died and when? When will false cases against the protesters be taken back? When will there be a law on MSP? Without all this the apology is incomplete,” he said in another tweet in Hindi, using hashtag ”#FarmLaws”.
The Congress leader also said that the Punjab government is not responsible for the deaths of the farmers but paid them compensation because it understands that they are going through a difficult time.
”We have also given 152 of them jobs, we intend to give bulk of them jobs. So, we have already acted on it. Frankly it is not our responsibility, it is the prime minister’s personal mistake which he has accepted. So why doesn’t he have the dignity to turn around and say ‘I will compensate’. What is the problem? It is not a big amount for the Government of India. It is the same with Covid, millions of people have died of Covid. You don’t report them as Covid deaths. You report them as something else,” he alleged.
He claimed that while official figures in Gujarat say 10,000 COVID-19 deaths, Congress workers have found after visiting every village in the state that over three lakh people have actually died.
The bill to repeal the three contentious farm laws was passed by Parliament on Monday.
Farmers had been demanding that the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 be rolled back.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, which has been spearheading the protest against the farm laws, last month had written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking immediate resumption of talks with the government over their six demands, including a law guaranteeing of MSP for all farmers.