Govt offer on farm laws still stands; phone call away for talks: Modi in all-party meeting

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NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 29: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media before the start of the Budget Session at Parliament House, on January 29, 2021 in New Delhi, India. The Budget session of Parliament begins on January 29 with the address of the President to both the houses amid Coronavirus-induced health protocols. The Union Budget will be presented in the Parliament on February 1. The Budget session is set to be stormy with the Congress and at least 17 Opposition parties boycotting the President's address in solidarity with farmers' protest against the three farm laws, which the opposition alleges, were passed arbitrarily in the Monsoon session. (Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
NEW DELHI, INDIA - JANUARY 29: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the media before the start of the Budget Session at Parliament House, on January 29, 2021 in New Delhi, India. The Budget session of Parliament begins on January 29 with the address of the President to both the houses amid Coronavirus-induced health protocols. The Union Budget will be presented in the Parliament on February 1. The Budget session is set to be stormy with the Congress and at least 17 Opposition parties boycotting the President's address in solidarity with farmers' protest against the three farm laws, which the opposition alleges, were passed arbitrarily in the Monsoon session. (Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday told floor leaders of various political parties that his government's offer on agri laws made to protesting farmers 'still stands' and it was a 'phone call away' for talks, days after violence broke out in parts of the national capital on Republic Day.

Addressing these leaders at the customary all-party meeting convened by the government for the smooth conduct of the Budget Session, the prime minister, responding to the references by opposition leaders about the 'unfortunate incident' on Republic Day, said that the 'law will take its own course'.

Sharing the details of the meeting chaired by Modi and attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, 'The prime minister assured that the Centre is approaching the farmers issue with an open mind.'

'The prime minister said the Centre's stand is same as it was on January 22, the last meeting between the protesting farmers and the Centre and proposal given by Agriculture Minister on the farm laws still stands. Modiji reiterated what Tomarji had said - that he (Narendra Singh Tomar) is phone call away for talks,' Joshi said quoting Modi.

Emphasising on the need for smooth functioning of Parliament, Modi said smaller parties suffer the most due to disruptions as they do not get chance to raise their issues.

'It is for the bigger parties to ensure Parliament functions smoothly, there are no disruptions and thus, the smaller parties are able to voice their views in Parliament,' Joshi said citing Modi's remarks.

The all-party meeting is convened for the government to put forth its legislative agenda before political parties. Leaders from various parties flag issues they wish to raise during the meeting.

The prime minister also condemned the vandalism of Mahatma Gandhi's statue in California in the US, the parliamentary affairs minister said.

At Friday's meeting, various leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay of Trinamool Congress, Balwinder Singh Bhunder of Shiromani Akali Dal and Vinayak Raut of Shiv Sena raised the issue of protesting farmers, sources said.

All major opposition parties sought discussions on farmers' issues during the meeting.

While almost all opposition parties condemned the violence and vandalism at Red fort by a group of protesting farmers on Republic Day, they asserted that other farmers protesting peacefully should not be held responsible for it.

Meanwhile, the BJD demanded the passage of women's reservation bill during the budget session which was supported by the YSR Congress and the TRS.

TMC's Bandyopadhyay said boycott of President's address by 20 opposition parties was a strong message for the government to withdraw the farm laws, the sources said.

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