Opposition leaders likely to meet President, seek repeal of farm laws
Leaders from different Opposition parties are likely to meet President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday over the ongoing farmers’ agitation, express their concerns over the three new agriculture laws enacted by the Centre in September and seek their repeal.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar said the Opposition leaders will meet to discuss the issue and formulate a collective stand on the contentious farm laws before meeting the President.
Apart from the NCP, the other Opposition parties likely to join the meeting include the Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M), the Communist Party of India (CPI), the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the Trinamool Congress, which is a last minute addition to the delegation.
All these parties are supporting Tuesday’s Bharat Bandh call given by the farmers’ unions.
Besides Pawar, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja and TKS Elangovan of the DMK will meet the President.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi is also likely to join but there is no official confirmation yet.
On Tuesday, Pawar met defence minister Rajnath Singh and the two are said to be have discussed land acquisition for the Purandar airport in Pune district.
A war of words has erupted between the government and the Opposition parties over the farmers’ protests. Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Monday that Pawar, as the agriculture minister in the UPA government, had asked states to amend the APMC Act and had even warned them that the Centre will not provide financial assistance in absence of the three reforms.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also cited letters written by Pawar at that time to chief ministers in this regard. However, the NCP said after taking over as the agriculture minister, Pawar had tried to form a broader consensus among state agriculture marketing boards by inviting suggestions for the implementation of the Act.
“The benefit of farmers as per the model APMC Act was explained by Pawar to various state governments, many of which came forward to implement it. Farmers across the country are gaining from the implementation of the Act which was fine-tuned by Pawar to protect farmers’ interests,” it said.
Meanwhile, former Haryana chief minister and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda demanded immediate convening of the Parliament session to repeal the farm laws. He also said that some reforms are needed in the agriculture sector but those have to be framed keeping in mind the interests of farmers.
“I agree some reforms are needed but these should be in the interests of farmers. The Acts passed recently have no reflection of such reforms. The government should call a Parliament session to repeal these laws and discuss agricultural reforms that don’t hurt the farmers,” he added.