Launching a direct attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Vadra said on Wednesday, “Beneath the 56-inch chest, the Prime Minister has a small heart that beats for his billionaire friends.”
She was speaking at a ‘kisan mahapanchayat’ in Saharanpur.
Questioning the intention of the government, Ms. Vadra said the PM was spending ₹20,000 crore on the redevelopment of the Parliament House and had money to buy two planes worth 16,000 crore but he didn’t fulfil his promise of paying the pending ₹15,000 crore of sugarcane farmers.
She said the PM had time to visit several countries but he had no time to visit the borders of the city where he lives in, where thousands of farmers had been protesting against farm laws for 78 days.
Ms. Vadra also criticised the PM and the BJP leaders for making “fun of farmers” in Parliament.
She promised to repeal the laws if her party came to power.
Ms. Vadra launched the party’s Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan campaign at the mahapanchayat, held in Chilkana Sultanpur area of Saharanpur.
The presence of local party heavyweight Imran Masood was palpable both on posters and the ground.
Earlier, Ms. Vadra landed at the Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun and visited the shrine of Mata Shakumbari Devi and the dargah of Hazrat Raipuri before addressing the farmers in the Government Inter College grounds in Sultanpur Chilkana.
Drawing a parallel between the mythical story of the goddess and the farm laws, she described the laws as ‘demonic’ and against the interests of the farmers. She said the laws were meant to encourage hoarding and weaken the MSP regime.
The ground was full and the crowd spilled onto adjoining roads.
Mohammad Ali, a young farmer from Dhaulahedi village, said those in power seemed to have forgotten “data alone would not suffice, the country needs atta [flour] to grow”.
Shahid Khan from Patni village said he had come to see Ms. Vadra and support Rakesh Tikait.
An elderly Abdul Wahid said they would welcome everybody including Prime Minister Modi but “vote toh oat main hogi” (the ballot would be cast in secrecy), he chuckled.
Mr. Ali said local farmers, at the moment, were supporting the political leaders raising the voice against the farm laws. “But at the time of elections, they would expect them to unite under one umbrella.”
Before Ms. Vadra took stage, poet-politician Imran Pratapgarhi put the government on notice as he kept the crowd rooted with stirring poetry. He reminded the PM that once upon a time he was also an andolanjeevi as he had risen through the Ram Temple movement.
The panchayat was held despite the administration’s orders that Section 144 of CrPc was in place in the district.