Mumbai, Oct 15 (PTI) The Maharashtra Congress on Thursday held a virtual "Save Farmers" rally, seeking withdrawal of the Centre's "black" farm laws, which it said will "enslave" peasants to corporate houses.
The party leaders said they will not keep quiet till the laws are withdrawn by the government.
The Congress's state unit also announced that it would collect signatures of one crore farmers from the state, which would be submitted to party chief Sonia Gandhi, who will hand them over to President Ram Nath Kovind on November 14, seeking his direction to the Centre to revoke the laws.
Addressing the rally, AICC in-charge of Maharashtra Congress H K Patil said it is "ironical" that the Centre is showing the dream of a "self-reliant" India by "breaking" the backbone of the country's economy and the agriculture sector through the laws.
"The government is exploiting and insulting farmers...it is impelling them to become slaves of companies," Patil said.
He made the remarks while taking part in the rally from Sangamner in Ahmednagar district along with state Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat.
"But we all farmer brothers will, under the leaderships of Sonia Gandhi ji and Rahul Gandhi ji, unitedly force the government to withdraw the laws...We will keep the fight on till the laws are withdrawn," Patil said.
Patil also said that states were not consulted before the "pro-crony capitalist" bills were framed despite agriculture being a state subject.
"Even farmers, for whom it is said that the laws have been framed, were not heard before the bills were passed," he alleged.
Thorat, who is state Revenue Minister, said the party will collect one crore signatures of farmers from the state.
He asked party workers to reach out to farmers for their signatures and make the peasants aware of how these laws will affect them badly.
"Tell them (farmers) that the protest is for them and to ensure they are not deprived of their rights. We want to collect the signatures till October 31 and submit those to Sonia ji," he added.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said the laws will destroy the system of Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMC), threaten the provisions of minimum support price to farmers and make cultivators slaves of the corporate houses.
He referred to the Punjab government's decision to convene a special session of the state assembly on October 19 to bring in a legislation to counter the Centre's farm laws.
"We (Maharashtra government) should also take such a step," Chavan said while joining the rally from Kolhapur.
Maharashtra ministers Ashok Chavan, Nitin Raut, Amit Deshmukh, Yashomati Thakur, Vijay Wadettiwar and Satej Patil, partys Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Satav and other leaders also took part in the rally.
The Congress aimed to reach out to 50 lakh farmers through the rally.
The Parliament passed the contentious 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 during its monsoon session.
Kovind gave assent to the three bills last month.