Opposition leaders meet President Kovind, ask for repeal of farm laws
A delegation of opposition parties on Wednesday met President Ram Nath Kovind to seek repeal of the three new farm laws enacted in September, alleging that the government had “insulted” the farmers by getting these passed in Parliament in an “undemocratic” manner without discussion and consultation.
The meeting came a day after a Bharat Bandh called by farmers’ unions in protest against these laws. Thousands of farmers are currently protesting at Delhi’s borders after they were denied entry into the Capital.
The five-member delegation of opposition leaders included former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India general secretary D Raja and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) leader TKS Elangovan. The delegation was limited to five because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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“We urge upon you, as the custodian of the Indian Constitution, to persuade your government not to be obdurate and accept the demands raised by India’s annadatas,” the opposition leaders said in a memorandum submitted to the President.
“The new agri laws, passed in Parliament in an anti-democratic manner preventing a structured discussion and voting, threaten India’s food security, destroy Indian agriculture and our farmers, lay the basis for the abolishment of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and mortgage Indian agriculture and our markets to the caprices of multi-national agri-business corporates and domestic corporate,” it added.
The memorandum said over 20 political parties, including those running states, extended their solidarity with the farmers over their struggle and supported their bandh call on December 8, demanding the repeal of the agri laws and the electricity amendment bill. “We met the President and informed him of our views regarding the three farm laws. We have asked for their repeal. We informed him that it is critical that they are taken back,” Gandhi told reporters after the meeting.
“The way the farm laws were passed in Parliament, we feel it was an insult to farmers and that is why they are protesting in the cold weather against them. They will not relent and will continue their peaceful agitation till the laws are taken back,” he said.
The former Congress chief claimed that the new laws were aimed at handing over the farm sector to the “friends” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“But the farmers are fearless and will not back off. They have lost faith in the government,” he added.
Pawar said various political parties requested the President that these farm laws should be repealed as they were not discussed with either stakeholders or in a select committee of Parliament. “Not a single suggestion offered by opposition leaders in Parliament was accepted by the government and all these bills were passed in haste,” he said.
“In this cold, the farmers are on the streets protesting peacefully, expressing their unhappiness. It is the duty of the government to resolve this issue,” Pawar added.
His views were echoed by Yechury. “We told the President that the three farm laws were passed undemocratically in Parliament and have sought the repeal of these laws,” he said.
The CPI(M) leader said the government should repeal the acts in view of the widespread protests by farmers.
“The Prime Minister has been saying that these laws are in the interest of farmers, but the question is if these laws are in their favour then why are they protesting out in the cold,” he said.