Rahul Gandhi, whose party has extended full support to the peaceful Bharat Bandh, today reaffirmed his support to protesting farmers seeking withdrawal of three controversial farm laws that they allege will give power to private firms to take over the agriculture sector. The protest has been on for 10 months.
The Congress has asked all its workers, state unit chiefs and heads of frontal organisations to take part in the Bharat Bandh.
"Farmers' non-violent satyagraha is intact even today, but the exploitative government does not like this and that is why we have Bharat Bandh today," posted Rahul Gandhi in Hindi in a Haiku-like tweet. The Congress leader ended his tweet with a declarative #IStandWithFarmers.
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of over 40 farm unions, is leading the 6 am-4 pm protest today. The group has said they will not allow movement on some sections of national highways.
Government and private offices, educational and other institutions, shops, industries and commercial establishments will be closed across the country, the SKM said. However, demonstrators have insisted that emergency services won't be affected.
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said farmers are ready to protest for 10 years, but will not allow the "black" legislations to be implemented.
"The Agriculture Minister is asking us to come for talks. We want to ask him to tell us the time and place. He simply says it for the sake of it. We will not leave even if it takes 10 years," Mr Tikait told NDTV this morning.
The government has offered to amend the laws after discussions with farmers. The farm laws are in fact beneficial for farmers as some of the provisions cut out middlemen, who exploit farmers, it has argued.
Farmers from different parts of the country, especially Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting along the state border in Delhi since November last year.