Oppn in LS hits out at govt over farm laws; BJP, ally say committed to welfare of farmers

·5-min read

New Delhi Feb 8 (PTI) Opposition parties on Monday slammed the government in Lok Sabha over the three agri laws and demanded their repeal, as the House resumed the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the President's address after days of deadlock over the farmers' issue.

The BJP defended the ruling dispensation, saying the Narendra Modi government is committed to the welfare of farmers and it will remain so in the future too.

The Modi government has been trying to double the income of the farmers through various measures, BJP member Virendra Kumar said participating in the debate.

Referring to the ongoing farmers' agitation against the three agricultural laws, Kumar said there was some anxiety among a section of farmers but the government has tried to allay their concerns through discussions and so far 11-12 rounds of talks have taken place.

'I want to make it clear that the government is committed to the welfare of the farmers. It was, it is and it will continue to do so,' he said amidst thumping of desks by BJP members in attendance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi among others.

Lok Sabha resumed normal functioning on Monday after a week-long disruption over the three central farm laws following an appeal by Singh that it was a duty of every member to maintain the tradition of passing the Motion of Thanks to the President's Address.

The House is likely to take up a Short Duration Discussion on the farmers' issue in the second part of the Budget session beginning March 8.

Singh, who is also Deputy Leader of Lok Sabha, said Rajya Sabha has already passed the Motion of Thanks after the prime minister's reply and 'I appeal to members not to break this tradition in Lok Sabha'.

Singh said that members are free to speak on farm laws during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks.

Congress Leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury too said that this tradition has been continuing since 1921 and should not be broken.

Modi is likely to reply to the debate on Wednesday, Parliament sources said.

Later, participating in the debate, Chowdhury alleged that the government had sent 'vandals' to the Red Fort to 'desecrate' the monument and defame the ongoing farmers' agitation, and demanded that a JPC probe be held to uncover the 'big conspiracy'.

'Farmers are at Delhi's borders. More than 200 farmers have lost their lives. Why is the prime minister not talking to them? Why this arrogance? You have a majority and you are trying to bulldoze through your majority. Don't insult the farmers, don't wage a war against the farmers. Are they your enemy?' he said, lashing out at the Modi government.

The Congress leader said that the government did not convene the winter session citing the coronavirus pandemic.

'We should not be afraid of debate. Dissent, disagreement and dialogue are the hallmark of our civilisation,' he said.

With such a strong home minister like Amit Shah, how can some people reach the Red Fort, that too on January 26 when the highest level of security was in place in Delhi, he said.

'Why isn't there a proper investigation into it. It is actually a big, well-planned conspiracy to defame the farmers. The fact is that you have sent some vandals to the Red Fort to create vandalism. Forces within the government are behind it,' he alleged.

He was referring to the Republic Day incident during the farmers' tractor parade when hundreds of protesters had stormed the Red Fort, hoisted a religious flag on the ramparts and clashed with the police.

The Congress leader said a JPC probe should be instituted so that it can go into the details of the alleged conspiracy and find out the truth.

Locket Chatterjee of BJP, who initiated the debate last week, attacked the West Bengal regime, saying the TMC government was playing politics with people, including on coronavirus vaccines, and asserted that the people will give their reply this year.

West Bengal is set to go for assembly elections in the coming months. Against this backdrop, Chatterjee alleged that the state government was not doing anything for the people and that the state's chief minister was in 'silent mode'.

Chatterjee said there are various problems and incidents in West Bengal but 'Didi is in silent mode', an apparent reference to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

'People will give reply in 2021,' she said during her speech, which was a mix of Bengali, Hindi and English.

Amid recent controversy over chanting of Jai Shri Ram in West Bengal, Chatterjee said, 'Jai Shri Ram is not a bad word... It is not just uttered by BJP but by the whole nation'.

Rajiv Ranjan Singh of the JD-U, an ally of the BJP, said the opposition leaders failed to highlight the provisions in the agri laws which are not in the best interest of the farmers.

Shiv Sena's Prataprao Jadhav said only a farmer can know the problems that the agri laws have and they were passed while sitting inside the air-conditioned halls of Parliament.

Mahua Moitra of Trinamool Congress said the government's decision to impose a nationwide lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19 inflicted 'untold misery' on people with lakhs of people forced to walk to their homes hundreds of kilometres away.

She demanded the three new farm laws that have drawn protests from farmers be repealed. PTI JTR PR CS ACB KR RHL