Opposition delegation meets President, seeks repeal of farm laws
New Delhi: Opposition parties on Wednesday met President Ram Nath Kovind and sought repeal of the three farm laws against which thousands of farmers have been protesting on various borders of the national capital.
The five-member delegation of opposition leaders included Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja and DMK leader TKS Elangovan.
The opposition leaders submitted a memorandum to the President that said, “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 memorandum also said, “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 corporates.”
The memorandum to President further said that more than 20 different political parties, including many parties running state governments, have extended their solidarity with the ongoing historic struggle of the Indian peasantry and extended wholehearted support to their call for a Bharat Bandh on December 8, demanding the repeal of the retrograde agri-laws and the Electricity Amendment Bill. “We met President and informed him of our view regarding the three farm laws. We have asked for their repeal. We informed the President that it is critical that they are taken back,” Gandhi told reporters after meeting President.
He said 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”. “The farmers will not relent and will continue their protests till the laws and taken back,” he said.
The former Congress chief said the new laws appeared aimed at handing over the farming sector to the “friends of the prime minister”, but the farmers are fearless and would not back off and will continue with their peaceful agitation.
NCP leader Pawar said various political parties have requested President that these farm laws should be repealed as they were not discussed with either stakeholders or in the Select Committee of Parliament. The former agriculture minister said not a single suggestion of opposition leaders raised in Parliament were accepted by the government and all these bills were passed in haste.
He said the MSP has not been mentioned in the new farm laws and that is why the farmers are disturbed. Yechury said, “We told President that the three farm laws were passed undemocratically in Parliament and have sought the repeal of these laws.”
He said the government should repeal the acts in view of the widespread protests by farmers.
The opposition leaders said the prime ministers have been saying that these laws are in the interest of farmers, but the question is if these laws in their favour then why the farmers are protesting out in the cold.
The opposition delegation was limited to five because of the COVID-19 situation.
The three farm laws enacted in September have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.