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Show of Opposition might

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NEW DELHI: Opposition leaders Friday mounted their attack on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led central government over the prevailing agrarian crisis in the country, as a sea of farmers descended on Parliament Street with a clutch of demands.

Thousands of farmers from across India marched to Parliament from Ramlila Maidan, demanding an end to the agrarian crisis in the country as well as a special sitting to discuss the situation. Farmers, who have banded together under All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), had gathered in New Delhi on Thursday.

The protest paved the way for two political leaders - Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal - to come together on the same stage for the first time, along with representatives of like-minded parties such as the Nationalist Congress Party, National Conference and Communist Party of India (Marxist). The Congress president, in his address, said India currently faces two challenges: the bleak future of its farmers and the unemployment of its youth. "The farmers seek what they are owed from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but all they get are empty speeches," he added. Kejriwal, for his part, termed the centre's flagship insurance scheme for farmers as just another ploy to fleece them.

Speaking at the rally, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury alleged that agricultural growth rate has plummeted under the Narendra Modi government, and termed the Prime Minister as a "pocket-maar who takes all your money and gives back a little as a sop". "Like the Kauravas, there are just two memorable names in the arrogant BJP - Narendra Modi and Amit Shah," he said, adding that ruling party leaders invoke the Ram Mandir every five years in an attempt to divide the people along religious lines.

The Delhi chief minister, on the other hand, wondered why the centre was treating farmers in such a step-motherly fashion. "Your Bima Yojana for farmers is a fraud. Thousands of crores are taken from farmers' accounts, but when the crops are destroyed, conditions are cited. This is not a Bima Yojana, this is the BJP's daka yojana (dacoit scheme)," he claimed.

Representatives of 21 political parties, including opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Sitaram Yechury, Farooq Abdullah and Sharad Yadav, stood together on the stage at the massive gathering.

Nearly 35,000 marching farmers were stopped near the Parliament Street Police station. Farmer leaders addressed the protesters after that they were not allowed by the police to proceed further.

Farmers from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh reached Delhi on Thursday and spent the night at Ramlila Ground.

A group of women from Telangana, whose farmer husbands committed suicide, hung pictures of their men around the neck as they marched on the streets of Delhi.

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