Taking the battle on the land bill issue to social media, Congress on Saturday launched a 'Zameen Wapsi' website on the eve of its farmers' rally which is expected to see the first major attack on the government by Rahul Gandhi after his return from leave of absence.
The bilingual website 'www.zameenwapsi.com' has been started as the Narendra Modi government was resorting to a "bundle of lies" on the issue to mislead people, party leader Jairam Ramesh said after launching it.
Party General Secretary Digvijay Singh, who is the convenor of Sunday's rally, dared the government for an open debate on the land acquisition issue.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari say that they are ready for a debate. If that was the case why did they bring the ordinance? Gadkari talks of debate in such a way as if he was throwing a challenge. I as well as Jairam Ramesh are ready for such a debate wherever they like," said Singh.
Ramesh said the website will serve as a medium to farmers in rural and urban areas for placing their views and problems. "Congress will try to take their issues to the government," he said, adding that the website, which is to be updated daily, will provide all related information on the issue of land acquisition.
Sunday’s rally organised by the party at the Ram Lila grounds in New Delhi is significant as it is being held on the eve of the second phase of the budget session of Parliament.
Leaders of as many as 14 opposition parties had marched under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi to the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the first phase of the Budget session to protest against the controversial land bill.
The budget session's second phase beginning on Monday is expected to witness confrontation between the government and the opposition on the land bill issue.
Congress as also several opposition parties are projecting the Modi dispensation as "pro-corporate" and "anti-farmer" for pushing the measure, a view dismissed by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the government.
Congress leaders said that the need for the website which is both in Hindi and English arose as the government was running a systematic campaign of "misinformation" on land acquisition ordinance 2015.
"No meaningful information is available on the impact of the law or the reasoning behind it on the website of the Ministry of Rural Development either. In today's day and age, this is simply not acceptable", they said.
Ramesh said that the objective of the new website launched by the party was manifold. The first was to provide a data base of all the existing laws on the subject of land acquisition.
Digvijay Singh dismissed a suggestion that Sunday's rally would be a 'make or break' affair for the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.
"There is no such thing as make or break", he said when a reporter asked him whether Rahul will have to prove his mettle at the rally being held after his long leave of absence and whether the party sees it as a make or break affair for his leadership.
Replying to a question, Singh wondered whether the BJP and its government have contributed to the welfare of the farmer even in a small way.
"In a country where land is a symbol of security, an ordinance which allows forcible taking of land is a violation of a citizen's most basic rights", the website said.
Given that two-thirds of India's population is dependent on agricultural or related activities taking away a family's land without their consent is nothing short of a crime, it argued.
"For over a century, forced acquisition by the government has been a major cause of concern for farmers and land owners across the nation," it recalled.