As the Opposition cornered the Modi government over the farm laws for the fourth consecutive day in the Parliament, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday, 5 February said that the Centre willing to make amendments in the laws does not mean they are flawed.
Addressing the Rajya Sabha, Tomar said that the farmers are being misled when it comes to the three contentious farm laws.
“I made it clear that if the government is ready to make amendments, it does not mean there is any problem in farm laws. People in a particular state are misinformed,” he said, as quoted by ANI.
“Farmers are being misled that others would occupy their land if these laws are implemented. Let me know if there is a single provision in Contract Farming law which allows any trader to snatch away the land of any farmer,” he added.
‘Modi Govt Transformed Agricultural Sector’: Tomar
Highlighting the pro-farmer schemes of the Centre over the years, Tomar said that the government has brought a change in the lives of people living in villages.
“We continuously increased the fund for MGNREGA. When COVID-19 hit the country, we raised the fund allocation to MGNREGA from Rs 61,000 crore to Rs 1.115 lakh crore. More than 10 crore people were provided employment,” he said.
“We have started to provide MSP, 50% more than the production cost. Also, Rs 1 lakh crore agriculture infrastructure fund has been given under Atmanirbhar package. We have tried to ensure the requisite investment reaches the agriculture sector,” ANI quoted him.
He further said that the measures taken by the government, like transporting fruits and vegetable via rail and establishment of cold storages, has helped the agricultural sector.
“Our efforts are that farmers' incomes are doubled and contribution of agriculture to GDP increases rapidly,” Tomar said, adding that PM Modi is committed towards the welfare of farmers.
“The government has proactively undertaken efforts on a series of extension activities through webinars, online conferences, workshops, teleconferencing, social media and other media with stakeholders, on ordinances,” said Tomar, according to ANI.
Tomar also talked about the promulgation of the ordinance and stated that, “The draft was circulated to various Ministries/Depts for comments. States were consulted via video conferencing on May 21, 2020, which was attended by officials of 13 states/UTs,” reported ANI.
Opposition Corners Govt
Several Opposition leaders continued their attack on the government over the farm laws in the Parliament on Friday, 5 February, after which the Lok Sabha session was adjourned till Monday, 8 February, due to ‘disruption by opposition’, reported PTI.
“Atmosphere in the country today is such that anyone speaking the truth is dubbed as a traitor, anti-national, sedition cases are slapped on anyone asking questions to the government,” said Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut, quoted PTI.
Congress MP Anand Sharma said the farmers were forced to take up the fight and the Centre is responsible for the situation in Delhi.
“Farmers were forced to fight for their rights to get justice. Government of India is responsible for the situation that has arisen. I want to pay tributes to the 194 farmers who died during the protests,” he said.
“We express sympathies for police personnel and officers who were injured during the 26 January violence. No one has the right to attack those who are discharging their duties. The Red Fort incident has sent shockwaves across the nation and it should be investigated,” ANI quoted Sharma.
BSP MP Satish Mishra slammed the measures being taken by the Delhi Police at the protest sites and said that the government hasn’t taken such measures even at the Pakistan border.
“Nails have been fixed near the protest sites. I think government would not have made this kind of preparation at Pakistan border as it is doing at Delhi borders. Annadatas are being called the enemy of the nation. I urge you to shun ego and repeal the three laws,” he said.
“You have dug up trenches to suppress farmers' stir. You've not done it for them, but for yourself. You snapped their water and electricity supplies and even removed toilets, without thinking that women are also there. This is a human rights violation,” Mishra said, as quoted by ANI.
Congress MP Pratap Singh Bajwa asked why 12 party leaders were allowed to meet the farmers protesting in Ghazipur, and questioned whether this was a democratic move. Bajwa compared the barricades at the farmers’ protests with the Berlin Wall and said, “The government is giving Delhi borders the shape of concentration camps,” quoted PTI.
He added, “Don't teach us nationalism, every month a child from Punjab and Haryana return home wrapped in the Tricolour."
Congress leader, Digvijaya Singh spoke to media briefly after the Rajya Sabha session concluded and said, “Two ministers held talks with farmers — one of them, Narendra Singh Tomar ji, is a good person but he doesn't know anything about farming. And Piyush Goyal is a spokesperson of the corporate sector. I think farm laws were drafted in Mumbai and not in Delhi,” quoted ANI.
‘What Is Black in Black Laws?’
“I was in Rajya Sabha today and noticed that no one is ready to say what is black in the 'black laws'. If you are protesting against the law, then discussion should be held on its provisions. Unfortunately, this is not happening,” said Agriculture Minister, Narendra Tomar to ANI, after the parliamentary session concluded for the day.
“I think Opposition should respect its maryada (dignity),” said Tomar when asked about Opposition leaders comparing police measures at the farmers’ protests in Ghazipur to border with Pakistan, quoted ANI.
He reiterated that he has informed ‘all leaders of parties as well as farmers, that the government is ready for an open discussion. We have been talking to them. We have given them a proposal, we will talk with them again after their proposal comes’.
Rahul Gandhi recently released a booklet in solidarity to the farmers’ movement called ‘Khoon ki kheti’. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge showed the document in the Parliament today.
Tomar had earlier remarked about the document in the Parliament where he said, “Only Congress can practise ‘khoon ki kheti. BJP can never do so.” He clarified this remark to the media today, adding, "Accountable political parties should not mislead people. We only know one way of farming that is done by water. If Congress is doing khoon ki kheti, then they must know about it”, quoted ANI.
As the standoff between the Centre and the protesting farmers continues, the Parliament has seen several adjournments of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha during the ongoing Budget session that began on 29 January.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI.)
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