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Friday, February 26, 2021

Farm laws: Oppn parties target ‘rigid’ Govt, plan to turn up heat in Parliament

The agitation of farmers continues and the Government has shown shocking insensitivity and arrogance going through the charade of consultations,” Gandhi told a meeting of the Congress Working Committee.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: January 23, 2021 7:51:50 am
Maharashtra congress, Congress, Congress summons party leaders to Delhi, Maharahstra leadership, Maharashtra congress chief, Indian expressCongress president Sonia Gandhi (File Photo)

WITH TALKS between the Centre and farm unions breaking down, Opposition parties Friday slammed the Government for adopting a “rigid” stand and signalled that they will raise the issue forcefully and “vociferously” during the Budget session of Parliament starting next week.

Sources told The Indian Express that Congress president Sonia Gandhi is likely to convene a meeting of Opposition leaders ahead of the session to discuss strategy, and that they are already in touch with each other.

The Opposition parties have also decided to hold street agitations over the farm laws, with NCP chief Sharad Pawar slated to participate in a protest in Mumbai on January 25.

“Parliament will reconvene in a week’s time. It is the Budget session, of course. But there are so many pressing issues of public concern that need to be debated and discussed fully. Whether the Government will agree however remains to be seen… The agitation of farmers continues and the Government has shown shocking insensitivity and arrogance going through the charade of consultations,” Gandhi told a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).

“We will vociferously raise the issue in support of the food givers of our country. Since the day the ordinance was promulgated, we have been consistently opposing the anti-tiller legislation. Our stand is very clear. It will be pursued inside and outside Parliament,” Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury told The Indian Express.

Senior Left leader D Raja said he had spoken over the phone with Rahul Gandhi on the issue and both agreed that Opposition leaders should meet to chalk out a joint strategy. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the stalemate is continuing because of the Government’s “obduracy”. Trinamool Congress’s Derek O’Brien said the only option before the Government is to repeal the laws.

“Gazetted laws can’t be kept suspended. They are enforceable unless repealed. The assurance to keep them on hold is, hence, hollow. Farmers have seen through this subterfuge. Repeal these laws,” said Yechury.

CPI general secretary Raja said the Government is “being rigid”. He said the farm laws will jeopardise India’s food security, and agriculture will be handed over to business houses. “The Government should have agreed to rethink. When the whole farming community is agitating, political parties cannot remain onlookers and mute spectators…we are talking to each other,” Raja said.

O’Brien asked the Government to “bring an ordinance and scrap the bills”.

The CWC, too, chalked out an agitational plan. “We have decided to hold block-level demonstrations followed by district-level agitations and conventions before February 28. Finally, at the state level, there will be massive conventions before February 28 to show solidarity with the farmers,” said K C Venugopal, the party’s general secretary in charge of organisation.

“The Parliament session is coming…joining hands with other like-minded parties, the Congress will stand against these anti-farmer legislations and put pressure on the Government to repeal these three acts,” Venugopal said.

In a resolution, the CWC said the farmers are “fighting a decisive battle to save their farms and fields, their lives and livelihood, and their present and their future against a diabolical onslaught by the Modi Government determined to sacrifice their interests at the altar of a handful of crony industrialist friends.”

Pointing out that farmers’ organisations have said 147 farmers have lost their lives so far, it said “the Prime Minister and an arrogant BJP Government refuse to feel their agony and anguish or listen to their cry for justice” and dismiss “the angst of millions of farmers by branding them as ‘anti-nationals’ and worse”.

It said that the three laws, “bulldozed” in Parliament by “muzzling the voice” of the Opposition, will affect every citizen as pricing of all food products would be at the mercy of a handful of people.

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