New Delhi: Ahead of a 'victory rally' planned by the party over its land Bill agitation, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he talks about democracy but "forgets" about the farmers and labourers who make up its foundation.
"Modi ji talks about democracy but does not talk about our farmers and labourers, who run this democracy. He forgets them," Gandhi told a group of farmers from northern India at 10, Janpath.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, too, was present for the interaction.
The programme was organised by Youth Congress to "celebrate the victory" of farmers after the government was "forced" to let the land Ordinance lapse in the face of vociferous protests by opposition parties, including, prominently, the Congress.
"This is the victory of Congress. But it is the victory of farmers as well," said Rahul.
Youth Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Brar said around 400 farmers from states like Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh met the Congress president and the vice president to express their solidarity over the issue.
Congress is holding a Kisan Mazdoor Samman Rally at the Ramlila Ground here on September 20 to greet farmers and party workers after it "forced the government" to not go for a renewal of the "draconian" land ordinance.
In the run-up to the rally, Congress youth wing activists today gathered outside 10, Janpath, and party headquarters 24, Akbar Road, to celebrate what they termed was their success at having "compelled the BJP-led government to go back to UPA's land law".
Brar said Rahul has promised that he will not rest with the enactment of the land acquisition Act, but also fight to ensure that it is implemented.
"He fulfilled his promise and ensured that the NDA government does not succeed in bringing any changes in it," Brar said, adding that the "farmers who came to greet him (Rahul) recognise this".
Slamming as "draconian" the Modi government's decision to take the Ordinance route to bring changes in the UPA land law, chief Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had yesterday said that the government wanted to "whittle down" the provisions of the Fair Compensation (and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement) Act, 2013.
"It came to naught finally. That happened on account of a committed and sustained struggle by lakhs and lakhs of farmers in every nook and corner of India, from Parliament to Ramlila Ground and from state capitals to small villages," he said.
The government had twice re-promulgated the Ordinance, but allowed it to lapse finally on August 31 this year as it faced opposition from not only rival parties but also its allies and RSS affiliates.
The party said that the September 20 rally, which will be addressed by both Sonia and Rahul, was aimed at celebrating the success of India's farmers and farm labourers and telling the Modi government that they cannot replace the hard work of the farmer, who is the 'annadata' of the country, with their "dictatorial" will.