War of words between Congress and BJP intensifies with eyes on 2024 elections


Farmers during their sit-in protest demanding action against IAS officer Ayush Sinha over police lathi-charge on the protesting farmers in August, in Karnal (ANI)

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh says it was unfortunate that the farmers agitating against the farm laws had given a political twist to his remarks

Our Bureau
Chandigarh/New Delhi

The Congress on Tuesday decided to launch concerted campaigns against the policies and “misgovernance” of the BJP-led Central government and to reach out to people to get their support for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The Congress plans to target the Centre over a host of issues including price rise, unemployment, crime against women, farmers’ agitation, Rafale, Pegasus and alleged misuse of probe agencies.

The phase-wise agitation planned by Congress will continue till the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and senior leaders will participate in it.

The plan for protests was chalked out by a committee constituted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, under the Chairmanship of senior leader Digvijaya Singh. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was also present in the meeting.

According to a party leader present in the meeting, a strategy was chalked out to create an atmosphere against the Central government on the same lines as the “BJP created against the UPA government during the Anna movement.”

“This decision was to hold continuous sit-ins till 2024 against the policies of the BJP-led Central government. It was decided in the meeting that public opinion would be formed against the Central government with the help of social organizations and civil society. Congress will not only agitate on the roads but will also prepare public opinion,” Digvijaya Singh is learnt to have said during the meeting.

Party sources said that Udit Raj, a member of the committee, advocated for Rahul Gandhi to lead agitations.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said it was unfortunate that the farmers agitating against the farm laws had given a political twist to his remarks instead of understanding the pain and misery caused to the people on account of their protests in the state, which were quite uncalled for, given his government’s continued support to them.

Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh prepares the feast for a recent dinner he hosted for the Tokyo Olympic medalist Neeraj Chopra and others, in Chandigarh (ANI)

Reacting to Samyukt Kisan Morcha’s criticism of the remarks he had made on the issue, the Chief Minister lamented that despite his government’s unequivocal support to their cause, the farmers had misinterpreted his appeal and had, instead, tried to link it with the upcoming Assembly polls in Punjab. His government, as well as the people of Punjab, had always stood with the farmers on the issue of the farm laws, and it was sad that they were now suffering due to the continued protests of the farming community across the state, he added.

The Chief Minister asserted that there was no question of trying to split the farmers of Punjab and Haryana, all of whom were equal victims of the apathy of the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in the neighboring state.

“My government, in contrast, has not only firmly supported the farmers’ fight against the farm laws but had even brought in amendment Bills in the Vidhan Sabha to mitigate their adverse impact,” he pointed out, adding that those Bills had, unfortunately, not been forwarded by the Governor to the President for assent.

In a related development, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday and briefed him on the farmers’ protest and the Karnal incident. Questioning the genuineness of the farmers’ agitation, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia on Tuesday said Congress orchestrated the protest because the party is weak and does not have strength to protest under its own name.

“Today, a fact has come out. Punjab Congress MLA Raj Kumar Verka said his party is behind the agitation against the Centre’s farm laws,” said Bhatia. Questing the validity of the protest, he said, “What kind of agitation is this that the farmers or the protesters are being guided and commanded by the Congress party! Now, coupled with the fact that Captain Amarinder Singh has directed the protesting entities not to protest in Punjab, but to protest in Delhi and Haryana and UP. This itself shows the genuineness of the protest.”

He further claimed that farmers’ protests are being “orchestrated because today the weak Congress does not have it in themselves to actually even gather the strength to agitate.”

Further attacking Punjab Chief Minister, Bhatia said, “It seems the leadership in the Punjab Congress is not in sync, and Captain Amarinder Singh is suffering from ‘Sidhuitis’ now.” Bhatia asked the Punjab CM what he has done about the Punjab contract farming act that stipulates that if a farmer in Punjab violates an agreement, they could be sent behind bars. “This is the double standard of Congress,” he added.

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