India's Congress Party Stages Rally Against Foreign Minister for Calling Farmers 'Hooligans' - Video
14:07 GMT 23.07.2021 (Updated: 10:37 GMT 19.07.2022)
The protesting farmers said they are holding a mock parliament in the heart of Delhi as the Narendra Modi government has not responded to their long-pending demand to repeal three laws. The government considers the newly-enacted laws as progressive and in favour of small and marginal farmers.
India's main opposition party Congress on Friday staged a protest outside the house of Minister of State for External Affairs Meenakshi Lekhi, who called protesting farmers "mawali" (hooligans). The protesters, led by the party's youth wing leader Srinivas B.V., burnt an effigy of Lekhi.
"This shows their poor thinking and mentality towards farmers of our country. For the last eight months, the country's food producers have been fighting day and night on the border of Delhi against the three black agricultural laws", Congress leader Srinivas told the PTI news outlet.
Lekhi had called farmers, who were protesting in Delhi against the three farm laws on Thursday, "hooligans". Referring to an incident of violence during the protest in Delhi, she said in a presser, "They are not farmers, they are hooligans... These are criminal acts. What happened on January 26 was also shameful criminal activities. Opposition promoted such activities".
However, amid uproar over her remarks, the junior minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet alleged that "her comment was twisted" and she "withdraws her words related to farmers if they hurt anyone".
Seeking her resignation, Punjab state chief Captain Amarinder Singh joined the opposition parties in slamming Lekhi. "She had no right to defame the farmers. The BJP had no right to condemn the farmers in such an outrageous manner over the incident", Singh said in an official statement.
Over 200 farmers launched a peaceful protest near the Indian parliament on Thursday, demanding the withdrawal of the three farm laws passed by the Modi government last year. Since November 2020, thousands of farmers from India's western states of Haryana and Punjab have been protesting at different state borders on the outskirts of Delhi.