Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is preparing for a country-wide agitation against the BJP-led NDA government’s policies on farm, land and labour reforms, issues his party thinks will help it reconnect with its eroding traditional support base.
As part of the plan, the campaign will be launched from Punjab’s Malwa region with a ‘Kisan and Mazdoor’ rally either at Moga or Jagraon, most probably on March 29.
The party is planning to take on the BJP government on the farmers’ issues of land acquisition, dismantling of the Food Corporation of India and gradual withdrawal of the public distribution system and the minimum support price regime, implementation of the MS Swaminathan report on national farm policy and also demand foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.
On the issue of labour reforms, the Congress is going to rake up the issue of the ‘dilution’ and ‘curtailment of funds’ of the pro-poor social welfare scheme, MNREGA.
“We are also planning an all India conclave of farmers and labour organisations and a meeting of their leaders with Rahulji before the rally,” Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa told HT. “This will be a launching pad for Rahulji to connect with farmers and labour workforce.”
Bajwa has been entrusted with the task of roping in NGOs, farmers and labour organisations. Gandhi’s public meeting will be a show of strength for Bajwa in the wake of his long-running feud with former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh who virtually sounded the poll bugle for 2017 assembly elections with a ‘lalkar’ rally at Amritsar last month.
The tussle between the two leaders has already reached the Congress vice-president’s doors with a section of legislators demanding Bajwa’s immediate removal and appointment of Amarinder in his place to ‘ensure’ the party’s victory over the Akali Dal and the BJP in the next elections. The success of the rally would silence Bajwa’s detractors and strengthen his position in the Punjab Congress which is struggling to take on the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine.