Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 30
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today reached out to irate farmers saying the government proposal to suspend the farm laws for one-and-a-half years was still on the table and the Agriculture Minister was a phone call away should the farmers decide to engage.
Noting that dialogue was the only way forward, the PM told an all-party meeting, called to discuss agenda for the Budget session of Parliament, that the government was approaching the farmers’ issue with an open mind.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said, “The PM assured the leaders that the government was approaching the farmers’ issue with an open mind.”
He said the government’s stand was the same as it was on January 22 and the proposal given by Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar still stands. “The PM reiterated what Tomarji had said that he (Tomar) is just a phone call away for talks,” he added.
While the PM today signalled the government’s willingness to talk to farmers, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad warned him that farmers’ protests would swell if the police continued to implicate their leaders.
“You have made one mistake by pushing the farm laws through the Parliament without scrutiny. We had warned you then also. Now don’t make the second mistake of unfairly implicating farmer leaders. If you do so, this agitation will flare up. We all condemn the Republic Day violence, but the perpetrators were lumpen elements, not farmer leaders. Had the farm laws not been rushed, R-Day incidents would not have happened,” Azad told the PM.
Other Opposition leaders—NCP’s Sharad Pawar, TMC’s Sudip Bandopadhyay, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut, DMK’s TR Baalu and Tiruchi Siva and Left Front leaders—sought a discussion on farmers’ issues in the Budget session.
The government is likely to take up this debate, once Parliament reconvenes after recess on March 8.
The Opposition also sought a discussion on economy, LAC standoff, Arnab leaks and job losses. “It is easier to buy a car these days than to top it with fuel,” Azad said.
Terming R-Day violence unfortunate, the PM said the law would take its course.
He urged leaders to avoid disruptions noting that “it was for the bigger parties, including the BJP, to ensure that Parliament functioned smoothly, there were no disruptions and smaller parties were able to voice their views adequately”. The PM also urged leaders to give inputs to aid India’s global march.
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