Congress kicks off tractor protest against farm Bills

Will not rest until these unjust laws are repealed, says Thorat

Intensifying its agitation against the Centre’s contentious agrarian reform legislation, the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) on Thursday launched a massive tractor agitation across the State.

Big rallies were organised in Kolhapur in western Maharashtra, which saw the participation of MPCC chief Balasaheb Thorat, the Congress in-charge for Maharashtra, H.K. Patil, and District Guardian Minister Satej Patil, and in Amravati district in which State minister Yashomati Thakur took part.

“The Congress will not rest until it repeals these unjust laws that are ruining the lives of farmers. This wave of agitation will finish off the Modi-led Central government,” Mr. Thorat said.

Former Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that the Centre had just steamrolled the Bills instead of announcing a minimum support price for farmers in a legitimate manner.

“About 86% farmers in the State are extremely small land holders. They cannot fight big industrialists. These Bills advocating contract farming are anti-farmer in spirit. Hence, we are opposing them,” Mr. Chavan said.

Remarking on the hasty manner in which the Bills were passed, Mr. Thorat highlighted how Opposition MPs were suspended from the Rajya Sabha.

“These laws have been made for the benefit of a handful of traders, stockists, profiteers and capitalists. Thus armed, traders will stockpile farmers’ goods cheaply and sell them at high prices. The law does not provide for a base price,” he said.

A campaign to gather two crore signatures to oppose the Bills was under way in which 50 lakh farmers from Maharashtra alone had given their signatures, Mr. Thorat said.

He further said that the tripartite Maha Vikas Aghadi government had come into being with a view to keeping bigoted forces (read the Bharatiya Janata Party) at bay.

Another big tractor rally will be held in Sangli district on Friday.

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