New Delhi: The ruling BJP on Friday defended the three new farm laws in Rajya Sabha, while the opposition Congress sought their repeal and a probe by a Supreme Court judge into the violence during the Republic Day tractor rally by protesting farmers.
Speaking on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s address to the joint sitting of Parliament, BJP member Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe said the government is committed to the welfare of farmers and has taken a slew of steps in the last six years in that direction.
“Everyone keeps saying that the government must leave its arrogance but where is the arrogance…. We are ready for talks. We even offered to put it (the laws) in abeyance for 18 months. If we are showing so much flexibility why don’t they (protesting farmers) show similar flexibility…. If people in support of the laws also sit on dharna, do we want civil war. We say it is supreme House… no one can take this House for granted,” he said in Rajya Sabha.
He said that “we don’t work on the basis of populism. There were 11-12 rounds of talks”, but to no avail.
People are experiencing democracy of aspirations under the current government and it is not “Modi magic but Modi labour”, he said, adding it was hard work by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that led to India emerging strong on every front, be it foreign policy or domestic reforms.
Highlighting a series of reforms initiated under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, he said the government has devolved powers to states and district authorities in order to ease accessibility of developmental funds.
“The Centre is working with the vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas,” he said.
Participating in the discussion, Congress member Anand Sharma demanded repeal of the three contentious farm laws.
“Indian economic growth was sluggish before the COVID-19 affected the country. The situation worsened after the pandemic hit the nation, especially due to lockdown which resulted in many job losses. The government is responsible for this situation,” he said.
In these circumstances, he stated, the farmers were forced to fight for justice and their rights.
The government is responsible for the current situation on the farm laws, he said.
He paid tributes in the House to 194 farmers who have lost their lives during the ongoing agitation against farm laws and the healthcare professional who were at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic.
He also criticised the attack on Delhi Police personnel during the farmers’ tractor rally on January 26.
The farmers, protesting against the laws at border points of Delhi for over two months, took out a tractor rally on January 26. But some farmers violated the designated routes and reached the Red Fort. Some of them hoist religious flags there.
Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa demanded setting up of a committee headed by a Supreme Court judge for an impartial probe into the January 26 incidents.
Referring to the hoisting of religious flags at the Red Fort, Sharma said the entire nation was hurt because of the incident but there should be an unbiased inquiry into the incident as demanded by Bajwa.
He also said that the “unnecessary” mention about the farm laws in the the president’s address was “unfortunate”.
He demanded that the government repeal these farm laws without making it a prestige issue.
On the authorities snapping internet at farmer protest sites and disrupting water and electricity supplies, Sharma said, “We have become internet shutdown capital of the world. It is time to mend ways, especially during this Parliament session.” He also dismissed the finance minister’s claims that a total package worth Rs 28 lakh crore was provided during the pandemic.
Sharma told the House that the government provided only Rs 1.5 lakh crore to people, which is just 0.073 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Taking on the Congress over allegations that journalists and intellectuals were being arrested under the present government, Rakesh Sinha of the BJP said he would like to show a mirror to the party.
He claimed that 53,000 people were imprisoned under the now-scrapped Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, and only 434 of them were convicted after seven years.
Sinha said that famous poet Majrooh Sultanpuri was imprisoned for two years for his speech in Mumbai criticising India for taking membership of the Commonwealth.