A five-member delegation of Opposition parties on Wednesday met President Ram Nath Kovind and sought the repeal of the three farm laws against which thousands of farmers have been protesting, reported PTI.
“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 [food providers],” the memorandum stated. It added that the laws were passed in Parliament in an “anti-democratic manner preventing a structured discussion and voting”.
The opposition leaders also raised concerns that the laws threatened the country’s food security, laid basis for abolishment of the Minimum Support Price regime and exposed the agriculture sector to the “caprices of multinational agri-business corporates and domestic corporates”.
The memorandum pointed out that more than 20 different political parties, including many that are in power in various states, had extended their support to the farmers’ protest and the nationwide strike on December 8.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Communist Party of India(Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, Communist Party of India General Secretary D Raja and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s TKS Elangovan were part of the delegation.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the President, Gandhi said that the manner in which the laws were passed was an insult to farmers, adding that the legislations aimed at handing over the farming sector to the “friends of the prime minister”. “The farmers will not relent and will continue their protests till the laws are taken back,” he said.
Pawar, a former agriculture minister, said that not a single suggestion raised in Parliament by the Opposition leaders were accepted by the government and that the bills were passed in haste.
Yechury echoed his colleagues’ views, saying that the laws were passed undemocratically and that the government should repeal them in view of the widespread protests by farmers.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday evening, the prospect of reaching a solution on the matter received yet another setback after farmers’ unions rejected a written proposal sent to them by the Centre, listing the changes it was willing to make in the laws. The farmers said they will intensify their agitation in the coming days.
Farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting against the laws for nearly two months. The situation escalated two weeks ago, when thousands marched to the Capital, where they clashed with police who used tear gas, water cannons and batons to stop them. Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out at the entrance to Delhi for the fourteenth consecutive day on Wednesday to reverse the agricultural legislations.
The Centre, which claims the laws would revitalise India’s agrarian economy by boosting produce, has made several attempts to placate the farmers. But five rounds of talks have failed to break the impasse so far.