Rahul Gandhi (L), President of India's main opposition Congress party talks to India's former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (C) and his mother and leader of the party Sonia GandhiREUTERS

The Congress in Gujarat will organise a farmers' rally and `gherao' of the state assembly in Gandhinagar to demand a complete farm loan waiver on the first day of the two-day monsoon session beginning on Tuesday, September 18.

Farmers from across the state will join the `Khedut Akrosh Rally', which will be organized by the Congress at Satyagrah Chhavni in the state capital on Tuesday to press for their main demand - a complete waiver of crop loans.

It will be followed by `gherao' (to lay siege) of the Vidhan Sabha complex by agriculturists in support of their slew of demands, the main opposition party said on Monday.

The two programmes are being organized on the day, the two-day assembly session begins because the short session will give the opposition party little time to raise the issues of farmers in the House, Congress leaders Amit Chavda and Paresh Dhanani said at a joint press conference here.

The other demands of farmers include adequate minimum support price (MSP) for their produce, providing good quality fertilizers and seeds at a reasonable rate, improved supply of water and electricity, the scrapping of recently-conducted land survey based on satellite images which have many "discrepancies", they said.

Dhanani accused the BJP government of ignoring farmers and working only for industrialists. "Farmers in the state, especially marginal farmers, are financially strained due to anti-farmer policies of the BJP government which has ruled the state for 22 years but only worked to appease industrialists," the Leader of Opposition in the assembly said.

farmer rally india
Reuters/Adnan Abidi

"The Government has betrayed farmers by going back on promises made to them before the elections. Crop insurance schemes and satellite land surveys have only benefited private parties.

"Farmers are under loan burden while the government has failed to give them relief in terms of higher MSPs, cheaper and good quality fertilizers and seeds, better supply of electricity and water, among other measures," he said.

Chavda said agriculturists have approached the government repeatedly with their set of demands, but the BJP administration has turned a deaf ear to their pleas for relief.

"The rally and assembly gherao programme organised by Congress is a way to vent their anger and frustration towards the BJP government," the state Congress president said. Chavda said the two-day assembly session called on September 18-19 is insufficient for the opposition party to raise the issues affecting the public, including farmers.

"The government has deliberately kept the assembly session short so that it does not have to face inconvenient questions (from the opposition).

"The rally and gherao are ways to raise farmer issues before the government. We will continue to fight for farmers until our demands are met," Chavda added.