Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha and Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday said the government should bring a bill to restore statehood in Jammu and Kashmir and repeal the farm laws that a section of farmers are agitating against.
Speaking during the discussion on the motion of thanks to the President’s address, Azad said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only person who can find a solution to both the problems—Jammu and Kashmir and the farmers’ agitation.
“The Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan slogan is as relevant today as it was then. Without these two sections of our society we are incomplete,” he said. He went on to pay tributes to the soldiers who live in treacherous weather conditions to serve the nation and said, “I also pay tribute to those farmers who lost their lives in the last few months demanding their rights.”
“The logjam between the farmers and the government is not for the first time; it has been going on for hundreds of year… Farmers have had to struggle for their rights sometimes against feudalism and zamindari system and sometimes against the government,” Azad said.
He referred to the agitations that took place in pre-Independent India when the farmers’ took on the British government, forcing it to recall laws.
“I have been reading about farmers’ protests during British rule. The result was the government had to bend and I have reached the conclusion that the might of the farmers is the biggest force in the country. And we cannot reach any conclusion by fighting with them,” Azad said.
Apart from the Champaran movement and various other movement for land rights, Azad also referred to the 1988 rally when Mahender Singh Tikait laid seize to the Boat Club forcing the Congress that was then in power at the Centre to move its rally from Boat Club to Red Fort.
“I was sitting with the then Prime Minister (Rajiv Gandhi) and the government people came and said let’s remove them (farmers). We said we cannot fight with farmers we will change the venue. We went to the Red Fort instead and did not announce it. Two days later the agitation was withdrawn,” he said.
Pointing out that the government cannot open a front against its own people, Azad said the country should be united in fighting against its enemies.
While condemning the January 26 incident when a section of farmers raised a religious flag at the Red Fort, Azad said, “The whole Opposition and the Congress party condemned the incident that happened at Red Fort… it should have never happened; it is against democracy; it is against law and order. We cannot support such incidents and those who were involved in this should be given strict punishment; but at the same time those who are innocent should not be implicated.”
He urged the Prime Minister to set up a committee to find people who went missing on January 26.
“The efforts made to implicate them should not be made because then it will lead to another agitation. A man who has been a minister of state for foreign affairs has been charged with sedition along with a few journalists; if he is anti-national then we are all anti-national,” he said in reference to the sedition cases filed against Shashi Tharoor and some journalists.
Urging the Prime Minister to bring a bill to restore statehood in J&K, Azad said he fails to understand the rationale for bifurcating the state into union territories.
“I have heard Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s speeches, the then home minister’s and several BJP MPs, but I have never heard them demand that the state should be bifurcated. I can understand and I support a UT status for Leh. The government could have done that, but the state should be left untouched,” he said.
While the government has been claiming that the law and order has improved and terror activities in the Valley have come down, the Congress leader said it was a wrong claim. “Law and order in the in the state was much better before, militancy was at its lowest and developmental works were very good when there was a state government, no matter which government was in power,” he said.
He, however, congratulated the government for conducting the DDC elections.