O Rajagopal, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s only MLA in the Kerala Assembly, on Thursday backtracked after supporting a resolution passed by the House that the Narendra Modi government repeal the three contentious farm laws, NDTV reported.
The BJP MLA first spoke in favour of the agricultural laws during the Assembly session. “These laws are for the benefit and protection of farmers – to do away with middle men and commission agents,” he told the Assembly. “These laws give rights to farmers to sell their produce anywhere.”
Rajagopal said that those who opposed the legislations were against the farmers’ interest, adding that both the Congress and the Left had suggested similar laws in the past.
The MLA, however, did not oppose the resolution against the laws. He told reporters after the Assembly session that he supported the resolution. “I agree with the substance of the resolution,” Rajagopal said.
Rajagopal was also told that he may be contradicting his party’s stand. “This may not be party stand,” he said in response. “These compromises are a part of democratic system. We must go with consensus. Before that consensus is formalised, I put my difference of opinions before people.”
Hours later, he issued a statement saying that he opposed the resolution. “I have clearly stated my stand in the Assembly during my speech,” he said, according to News18. “I am not opposing the Centre’s bill and have not opposed the central government. This bill is good for farmers. I have even said that PM [Prime Minister Narendra Modi] is always ready for talks but the pre-condition by protesters to repeal the laws for talks, has delayed the process.”
The MLA also claimed that the speaker of the Assembly “didn’t specifically ask for those who opposed and those who backed the resolution at the time of voting”, according to The News Minute. He added that this was a violation of precedent.
Earlier in the day, the Kerala Assembly passed a resolution against the contentious agricultural laws during a special session. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who moved the resolution, said it was the duty of the state government to stand with the protesting farmers.
Hundreds of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at Delhi’s borders for over a month, blocking highways in giant demonstrations against the new legislations. They fear the reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations. Many have died due to the biting cold.
On Wednesday, the government held its sixth round of talks with farmers’ unions. They reached a consensus on two key concerns – stubble burning penalty and the Electricity Amendment Act. The next meeting is scheduled to take place on January 4 and will focus on Minimum Support Price and the farmers’ demand to repeal the laws.