Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday accused the Centre of being stubborn, saying it is not ready to listen to farmers protesting against its contentious farm laws in harsh weather for the past three months.
Addressing farmers” “mahapanchayats” in Dungargarh of Bikaner and Chittorgarh’s Matrikundia, Mr Gehlot said the way the Union government is behaving is shameful.
Protests should be there in a democracy but the Union government is stubborn and not ready to listen to the farmers protesting for the past 90-days in extreme weather conditions, he said.
Mr Gehlot asked how those in the government can sleep when farmers are protesting while facing hardships.
Mr Gehlot also alleged that democracy in the country is under threat with the CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Income Tax Department and other agencies working under pressure.
“What is happening is really sad. Journalists and activists are being arrested. We have seen many governments but this is happening for the first time. Governments are not meant to be stubborn,” he said.
Targeting the former BJP government in Rajasthan, Mr Gehlot said over 80 people were killed in firing incidents during different protests, including the Gurjar agitation, during its rule but in the Congress rule, not a single baton charge took place.
He said the state government brought bills to counter the three farm laws but the Governor has not forwarded these to the President.
He also said that the government has waived farmers’ loans and appealed to people to vote for the development work carried out by his party in the upcoming bypolls to four Assembly seats.
Former deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot too said in the Matrikundiya rally that the Congress Party has always worked in the interest of farmers and was standing by them.
“The centre wants to impose the laws on farmers. The prime minister is not ready to listen to farmers. The laws made by the Centre are not only against farmers but also against the common man,” he said.
Mr Pilot said the government wants to close all mandis. “Through these laws, farmers will become labourers on their own land,” he said.
The former deputy Chief Minister also praised the state Budget and asked people to vote for the Congress in the bypolls.
“The state budget is very good and the Opposition is left with nothing to say against us,” he said.
Mr Pilot also hit out at the BJP-led Union government over increasing fuel prices. “The price of petrol is Rs 100, cylinder is being sold at Rs 800 and unemployment is at peak,” he said.
AICC general secretary Ajay Maken and state Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra also addressed the rallies, in which the Congress put up a united face with Gehlot and Pilot in presence ahead of the Assembly bypolls to four seats.
It was in July last year that Mr Pilot had revolted against Mr Gehlot, resulting in a political crisis in the state. It is the first time after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections that both leaders travelled by air together.
Mr Maken and Mr Dotasra also shared the photo of all the four sitting in a chopper on Twitter.
With the “mahapanchayats” on Saturday, the Congress launched the party’s campaign for bypolls to Sujangarh (Churu), Sahada (Bhilwara), Vallabhnagar (Udaipur) and Rajsamand assembly seats.
While the Dungargarh rally was close to the Sujangarh constituency, the rally in Matrikundiya was near the rest of the three constituencies.
At present, the ruling Congress has 104 MLAs and the BJP 71 in the 200-member Assembly.
Thirteen MLAs are Independents while the RLP has 3, BTP 2, CPI (M) 2 and the RLD 1.