Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri took a swipe at Rahul Gandhi today over images that showed the Congress leader sitting on what appear to be cushioned seats on a tractor during a rally in Punjab to protest against the centre's controversial farm laws.
Mr Puri, who is the Civil Aviation Minister, tweeted "cushioned sofas on tractors is not a protest" and repeated the BJP line - that the Congress's "protest" is an attempt to "misguide our farmers".
"The 'protest' launched by the Congress is a political protest by those whose vested interests are hurt by the farm bills. Cushioned sofas on tractors is not a protest... it is 'protest tourism' to misguide our farmers, who are educated and intelligent enough to see through this façade," Mr Puri tweeted.
The 'protest' launched by Congress is a political protest by those whose vested interests are hurt by the #FarmBills.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) October 5, 2020
Cushioned sofas on tractors is not a protest.
It is ‘Protest Tourism' to misguide our farmers who are educated & intelligent to see through this facade. pic.twitter.com/MiYz7IndYf
On Sunday Mr Gandhi kick-started a three-day tractor rally in Punjab's Moga to protest agriculture-related laws that farmers fear will rob them of a minimum support price for and government procurement of their produce, and expose them to exploitation by private companies.
"Their (the BJP's) only aim is to destroy MSP and food procurement. The country knows farmers of India, farmer of Punjab and Haryana cannot survive without MSP. The Congress is never going to let this government to do it," he said yesterday.
Images from the rally showed Mr Gandhi sitting on what seem to cream-coloured cushions, on one side of the tractor driver, while Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh sat on the other side.
Lakhs of farmers across the country - and particularly in Punjab and Haryana - have taken to the streets and blocked highways and railway tracks to highlight their discontent over the legislation.
The government has claimed the new laws - passed last month amid ruckus in the parliament - will help farmers by allowing them to sell their produce at markets and prices of their choice.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made several verbal assurances that neither the MSP nor government procurement will be stopped, but the farmers remain unconvinced.
Meanwhile, in another tweet earlier today Mr Puri also took a swipe at the Congress over the burning of a tractor near India Gate in central Delhi last week during a farm laws protest, for which the Punjab Youth Congress took responsibility.
"When informed criticism hits the target, attempts are made to shoot the messenger. Anybody who knows our farmers will know that farmers who toil on their land will never burn their tractor. The tractor was not burnt by farmers, it was burnt by Congressi goons," he said.