Amid the ongoing agitation by farmers, a delegation of opposition parties led by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi met President Ram Nath Kovind Wednesday demanding the repeal of the three farm laws.
Besides Gandhi, the five-member delegation included NCP chief Sharad Pawar, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja and DMK leader TKS Elangovan.
“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.
A delegation of senior opposition leaders led by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday met President Ramnath Kovind. They have submitted a memorandum to the President asking to repeal agriculture laws.
“More than twenty 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 yesterday, demanding the repeal of the retrograde Agri Laws and Electricity Amendment Bill.
“These new Agri Laws, passed in the 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 abolition of the minimum support price and mortgage agriculture and our markets to the caprices of multi-national agri-business corporates and domestic corporates,” the memorandum said.
Addressing the media after meeting the President, Gandhi said the way farm laws were passed in Parliament was “an insult to farmers” and that is why they were “protesting in the cold weather against them”. “We met the 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 said.
He reiterated that the new laws are aimed at handing over the farming sector to the “friends of the prime minister” while saying the farmers would not back off as they are “fearless” and would continue with their peaceful agitation.
Pawar said the delegation has requested the President that these farm laws should be repealed as they were not discussed with either stakeholders or in the Select Committee of Parliament.
Yechury said, “We told President that the three farm laws were passed undemocratically in Parliament and have sought the repeal of these laws.”
The fear relating to the weakening of APMC mandis and minimum support price (MSP) regime are among the main factors behind the ongoing protests, as part of which thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab, have gathered at the capital’s doorstep. Emphasising that their demand for repeal of the new farm laws was “non-negotiable”, the farmers also threatened to block other roads leading to Delhi if their demands are not met.
The farmers have expressed apprehension that the Centre’s farm laws would pave the way for the dismantling of MSP system, leaving them at the “mercy” of big corporates. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the other hand, has maintained that the new laws would provide farmers with better opportunities and accused the opposition parties of misleading farmers.