New Delhi: The Congress government in Rajasthan is making efforts to provide momentum to the farmers’ agitation in the state in an attempt to ensure it is no longer seen as an issue confined to Punjab and Haryana.
At a mahapanchayat in Dausa Friday, former Deputy CM Sachin Pilot addressed a massive gathering of farmers and talked about the ongoing protests at Delhi’s borders against the contentious farm laws passed by the Modi government.
In an exclusive conversation with ThePrint, Pilot said he plans on organising multiple such mahapanchayats in the coming days in the districts of Bharatpur and Kotkhawada.
“Our party had been holding events around the issue in Jaipur and other places in the past. But I am of the firm opinion that it is important to take this to the masses, because ultimately in a democracy it is numbers that matter,” Pilot told ThePrint.
“The more and more people get involved, the more the farmers will feel enthused and have their voice heard,” he added.
केंद्र सरकार द्वारा बनाए गए कृषि कानूनों के विरोध में दौसा में आयोजित किसान महापंचायत को संबोधित कर किसानों की आवाज बुलंद की।
किसानों का भविष्य अंधकार में नहीं धकेला जा सकता। सरकार को ये कृषि विरोधी बिल वापिस लेने होंगे। pic.twitter.com/EY3duPSUol
— Sachin Pilot (@SachinPilot) February 5, 2021
The Dausa mahapanchayat is also being seen as a show of strength by Pilot, who was sacked from the post of the Deputy CM of Rajasthan in July 2020, after he mounted a rebellion against the Congress.
Dausa is also the constituency from where Pilot won Lok Sabha elections in 2004, becoming the youngest ever parliamentarian at the age of 26. It was also the home turf of his father and Union minister, Rajesh Pilot, from where he had been a five-time MP between 1984 and 1999.
‘Congress not trying to take ownership of farmers’ movement’
Despite Congress’ outreach to farmers in the state, Pilot insisted that the party is in no way trying to “take ownership of the farmers’ movement.”
“We are very clear, we don’t want to give a reason to the government of India to not withdraw these laws,” Pilot said.
At the national level, the Congress has maintained distance from the farmers’ protests, with a few Punjab MPs running a parallel protest at Jantar Mantar for nearly the last two months.
Rahul Gandhi, too, in a press conference last week, said that the party wants to “respect the wishes of the farmers” who do not want any political party to align with the protests.
“We are not trying to own up the agitation. This is a farmers’ movement, and will remain such. They need our support, but there is no question of taking over the entire movement. This is not a political party’s movement,” Pilot said.
However, he maintained that he will try and reach out to as many farmers, and explain the farm laws to them.
“Farmers across the country must know what the future holds for them. Even the crowd I addressed in Dausa, I explained all the provisions of the law to them. And the people there were in full support that the laws must be withdrawn,” Pilot said.
The mahapanchayat, which was conducted by the party under the banner ‘Main Bhi Kisan’ (I too am a farmer), saw the participation of party MLAs from constituencies of Dausa, Bandikui, Deoli-Uniara, Todabhim, Masuda, among others.
Pilot said the farmers’ agitation is picking up momentum in the state, even though it has so far remained away from media glare.
“It’s not that people here don’t know what is going on. Just because they aren’t on the roads, or it’s not captured by media so far, doesn’t mean the momentum isn’t brewing,” he said.
3 resolutions passed
At the Dausa mahapanchayat, three resolutions were passed by the farmers — to withdraw farm laws, to provide compensation to the farmers who have died in the course of the agitation, and to withdraw cases registered against various farmer leaders.
“This has stretched on for so long, and now with the kind of attitude the government is showing to the farmers, especially with the barricading of the Delhi borders, this is something that needs to be protested against,” Pilot said.
He said the farmers have been “extremely patient”, and that he “strongly condemns” the events that took place on 26 January when a section of farmers entered the Red Fort and hoisted the Nishan Sahib flag.
“I condemn in the strongest words the incident which took place on Republic Day, when the national integrity of the country was compromised. But that alone cannot be the reason to fortify the city, and cut off internet services in various surrounding districts,” Pilot said.