LJD MP MV Shreyams Kumar criticises govt handling of farmer agitation
In a scathing attack on the government over its handling of the ongoing farmer agitation, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) MP MV Shreyams Kumar on Thursday said the government has remained a mute spectator while democracy is being "butchered" just a few kilometers away from the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Participating in a discussion on a motion thanking the President for his address to the joint sitting of Parliament at the start of the Budget Session, Kumar alleged that none of the constitutional values are being upheld by the current dispensation and that the country is being mortgaged to private entities.
"Rashtrapati (President) can see how democracy is butchered just a few km away from the Rashtrapati Bhavan -- the Singhu border (the epicentre of the farmer agitation). Our annadatas, the kisan, on whom the Rashtrapati showers praise in his speech, is silenced and traumatised with multi-layered barricading, iron nails on road, barbed wires and iron rods between cemented barricades, reminding one of the horrific Tiananmen Square," he said in Rajya Sabha.
He noted that the President denouncing farmer protests was a disrespect to constitutional values.
Referring to the violence during the farmers' tractor rally on January 26, Kumar said it was the BJP government which dishonoured the national monument -- the Red Fort -- by handing it over to a private party for ₹25 crore for a five-year period in the garb of adopting a heritage site.
"The Red Fort is today in private hands. Rashtrapati has no qualms about this. The BJP dispensation does not know that under Article 51-A (of the Constitution), it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture," he added.
The government does not know the difference between a national monument and a commercial property, Kumar said.
"However, when some hooligans entered into the Red Fort, the dispensation first allowed them to enter and create mayhem only to raise the jingoistic fervour later," he noted.
He further said, "Unfortunately, the President has not seen the sufferings of his fellow brethren, the kisan, the annadatas who are protesting just a few km away from the Rashtrapati Bhavan. They are today insulted by the BJP dispensation by terming them as anti-nationalists."
The Internet is banned at the sites of farmer protest strike and this is draconian and unheard of in a democratic setup. Several international personalities have started raising their voice against this, Kumar noted.
He said that Parliament is "no longer sovereign" and bills are passed for private ends.
He added that the president's speech says the government holds in high esteem the values of democracy and sanctity of the Constitution and that the government has always respected freedom of expression and holding of peaceful agitations.
"In the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, India is ranked abysmally low at 142 out of 180 countries. Even the military junta Myanmar is ranked above India at 139. Palestine is at 137. Monarchies like Oman and UAE are ranked at 135 and 131 respectively. It is a shame for this government that no democracy is ranked as low as India at 142," Kumar said.
The LJD member also attacked the government over its economic policies and said that in the name of a free market economy, the current dispensation is selling all its assets. "Rashtrapati speaks a lot about Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). This is nothing but a catchy slogan aimed at hoodwinking the citizens. From computers to fabrics and from aircraft to toys -- everything is imported," Kumar said.
"Let this government know that roti cannot be downloaded from Google. It is the farmers who feed us. The rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer," Kumar said while opposing the Motion of Thanks to the President's address.
Thousands of farmers have been camping at Delhi's border points with a demand that the Centre repeal the new agri-marketing laws enacted last September.
The protesting farmers have expressed the apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations.
However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture.