Haryana farmers welcome farmers of Punjab moving towards Delhi to take part in their Jan 26 tractor rally, as part of the ongoing agitation against farm reform laws, at Shambu Punjab-Haryana border near Patiala. (PTI Photo)
Haryana farmers welcome farmers of Punjab moving towards Delhi to take part in their Jan 26 tractor rally, as part of the ongoing agitation against farm reform laws, at Shambu Punjab-Haryana border near Patiala. (PTI Photo)

Leaders condemn violence, Opposition seeks repeal of laws

  • The Opposition, including the Congress, alleges that the government rushed the farm laws without proper discussion in Parliament. The Centre, however, says the reforms will lead to new opportunities in agriculture trade.
By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2021 04:12 AM IST

Opposition parties on Tuesday sought to mount pressure on the Union government after violence erupted during a protest by farmers who are opposing three new agricultural laws, but a section of the Centre’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) maintained that the chaos on Delhi’s streets hinted at the role of “vested interests”.

Senior BJP leaders went into a huddle with party chief JP Nadda, general secretary (organisation) BL Santhosh and other senior leaders, including Rajya Sabha member and party general secretary Arun Singh, attending a meeting at the BJP headquarters in the Capital, said a person who did not want to be named.

No details were shared about the meeting, but the functionary cited above said party leaders found similarities between the Republic Day protests and those against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, or CAA, in late 2019 and early 2020 that turned violent on occasions.

A second senior leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the protests “corroborated” what the party had been alleging — that “anti-national elements” infiltrated the demonstrations. This functionary said there was a sense in the party that the protests were being fuelled by those with “vested interests”, and that the government’s outreach efforts were being “stonewalled”.

The Opposition, including the Congress, alleges that the government rushed the farm laws without proper discussion in Parliament. The Centre, however, says the reforms will lead to new opportunities in agriculture trade.

Former BJP national general secretary P Muralidhar Rao tweeted: “In Indian democracy u can have a mobilisation challenging govt on policies...sometimes it may appear as humiliating for d leaders who’re at helms but u can’t have a situation where its challenging d sovereignty of country n questioning d spirit of Indian Republic.”

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) condemned the violence. In a statement, RSS general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi said: “The violence and disturbances unleashed in Delhi today, the sacred Republic Day, are extremely painful and deplorable...RSS appeals to all countrymen to rise above political and ideological differences & to strive for peace as a priority.”

In the Opposition camp, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said violence was not the solution to any problem, but asked the Centre to meet the demand of the farmers by repealing the laws. “...No matter who gets hurt, the country will suffer a damage. Take back the anti-agricultural laws in national interest,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

A statement by his party said: “The Congress party and the entire country is pained by today’s violence and unruly incidents in Delhi.”

Former Union agriculture minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar took a potshot at the Centre.

“No one will support such violence, but then the question arises: who forced them to indulge in such acts? It was the responsibility of the central government to talk to the farmers and solve this impasse,” he told the media in Mumbai.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted: “Deeply disturbed by worrying and painful developments that have unfolded on the streets of Delhi. Centre’s insensitive attitude and indifference towards our farmer brothers and sisters has to be blamed for this situation.”

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh tweeted: “Shocking scenes in Delhi. The violence by some elements is unacceptable. It’ll negate goodwill generated by peacefully protesting farmers. Kisan leaders have disassociated themselves & suspended #TractorRally. I urge all genuine farmers to vacate Delhi & return to borders.”

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