Stepping up pressure, the Congress along with other Opposition parties held demonstrations against the new farm laws in several states on Monday with some protesters torching a tractor at the India Gate in the heart of Lutyens' Delhi.
The Congress invoked Bhagat Singh, whose birth anniversary was being celebrated on Monday, during the protests and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh took part in a sit-in at the ancestral village of the freedom fighter.
The chief minister said his government would approach the Supreme Court over the farm laws and warned that Pakistan's ISI could exploit the anger over the new legislations to foment trouble in the border state.
Protests were also held in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana, Gujarat, Goa, Odisha and Tamil Nadu, where the DMK and its allies, including the Congress, hit the streets.
DMK chief M.K. Stalin said his party was ready to challenge the new laws in court.
“Kerala was readying to approach the Supreme Court against the laws and the Tamil Nadu government should follow suit and if this does not happen, we (DMK) as an opposition party are ready to go to court on behalf of farmers and the people," Stalin said, while addressing protesters in Kancheepuram district.
Congress MP from Thrissur (Kerala) T.N. Prathapan moved the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the constitutional validity of various provisions of the Farmers' (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, one of the three contentious farm laws notified by the government.
MDMK chief Vaiko, Tamil Nadu Congress committee president K. S. Alagiri, DMK leaders T. R. Baalu and Dayanidhi Maran were among those who took part in the protests held at separate locations. Demonstrations were held in Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirappalli and Tirunelveli among other places across the state.
Farmers set on fire a tractor near India Gate during a protest against the new farm laws, in New Delhi on Monday. PTI
Early morning start
Five persons claiming to be members of the Punjab Youth Congress were detained after they unloaded a tractor from a truck in the high-security area at Rajpath, a few hundred metres from the President House and the Parliament, in the national capital and set it on fire at around 7 AM.
"On #BhagatSingh's birth anniversary Youth Congress set ablaze a tractor in protest against the govt's anti farmer bills," the Indian Youth Congress tweeted.
The BJP lashed out at the Congress over the incident, saying it has "shamed" the country with its "drama" aimed at garnering publicity and "misleading" farmers. BJP general secretary Bhupender Yadav dubbed the Congress as "anti-farmer", saying farmers venerate their farm equipment and would not set tractors on fire.
Nearly 100 Gujarat Congress workers, including state party president Amit Chavda and MLAs Baldevji Thakor and C. J. Chavda, were detained in Gandhinagar during protests.
In Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) president Ajay Kumar Lallu and other party workers were held during the protest.
The Opposition led by the Congress has alleged that the laws will make the farmers vulnerable to exploitation and will lead to the scrapping of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system. They are also critical of the manner in which these bills were passed in Parliament.
The Centre has maintained that the laws would prove beneficial to farmers as they would have the freedom to choose buyers for their produce and get remunerative price. Also. it has stressed that the MSP system will stay.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the Congress had been trying to do politics in the name of farmers, and it has been unmasked.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh along with Congress leaders stage a protest over the recent farm bills, at Khatkar Kalam in SBS Nagar on Monday. PTI
‘We will move SC’
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said he would fight the Centre's malicious new agriculture Acts constitutionally and legally, asserting that he will do whatever it takes to protect the farmers.
"I have said we will take this matter forward. The President has passed these bills and now we will take this matter to the Supreme Court," Singh said after paying tributes to Bhagat Singh on his 113th birth anniversary at his ancestral place Khatkar Kalan in SBS Nagar district.
"There has been peace in Punjab but when you try to take away someone's food, then won't he be angry. He becomes the target for ISI. That is why I am saying whatever they have done is anti-national, he later told reporters.
The AICC general secretary in charge of Punjab affairs, Harish Rawat, announced a signature campaign beginning October 2 to collect two crore signatures of farmers against the new farm laws and these will be submitted to the President of India on November 14.
In Lucknow, police stopped members of the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party's students wing as they tried to march towards the chief minister's residence.
Selja leads delegation
Haryana Congress held a protest outside the party's state headquarters in Chandigarh, alleging the laws will make farmers "dependent" and leave them at the mercy of big corporates.
A delegation comprising Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, party's state affairs in charge Vivek Bansal, other senior leaders submitted a memorandum to Governor Satyadeo Narain Arya which was addressed to the President.
Telangana Congress leaders and the new AICC in-charge for party affairs in Telangana Manickam Tagore were taken into custody when they tried to proceed to the Raj Bhavan from an adjacent government guest house. They were released by police later.
President Ram Nath Kovind has given assent to the three farm bills -- The Farmers'' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
Police detain UP Congress President Ajay Kumar Lallu during a protest over recently passesd farm bills, in Lucknow, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. PTI
Meanwhile, farmer organisations backed by a number of other social and political outfits on Monday staged protests across Karnataka against amendments to the Karnataka Land Reforms Act and the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act passed by the Karnataka Assembly.
The call for a bandh given by the Karnataka Raitha Sangha (Karnataka Farmers' Association) and other farmer organisations was supported by the Congress, JD(S), Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (KRV) and the Left parties.