Govt ready to discuss farm laws separately in LS: Narendra Tomar
Narendra Singh TomarIANS (File photo)

Govt ready to discuss farm laws separately in LS: Narendra Tomar

New Delhi, February 5, 2021

As the deadlock in the Lok Sabha continued for the 4th straight day with the Opposition protesting against the three contentious farm laws, Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar said the issue will be resolved as the government is ready to hold a separate discussion on the matter in the House.

The Minister said there has been a compromise with the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and its proceedings are now running smoothly. "I am confident that a similar understanding will be developed for the Lok Sabha too."

He said that the government is also ready to hold discussions with farmers to resolve their issues related to the three farm laws.

The Minister, while talking to the media inside the Parliament premises, said the government is keen to break the deadlock both in the House and the Delhi borders where thousands of farmers are protesting against these laws.

His remarks came after the Lower House witnessed pandemonium for the fourth straight day on Friday over the three contentious farm laws. The entire opposition was dissatisfied with the assurances from the government regarding the farmers agitation.

Over 12 opposition parties since the day after the Budget presentation have been creating a ruckus in the House seeking an open discussion on the three farm laws that were enacted in September last year. The Congress, DMK, NCP, CPI(M), CPI, SP, BSP, VCK, YSRCP, AAP and RSP are among those parties protesting against the government.

The Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) former allies Shiromani Akali Dal and Shiv Sena are also playing a major role in the protest over the farm laws.

The opposition parties are seeking a withdrawal of these laws and term them as "black laws" and "anti-farmer".

The House was adjourned for the day after two brief sittings on the same issue -- the first one till 6 p.m. after 16 minutes proceedings that started at 4 p.m., and the second till Monday 4 p.m.

The opposition parties held a separate meeting with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday evening requesting him to hold a detailed discussion on the farm laws issue, avoiding other House business, considering the plight of thousands of farmers who are staging an agitation at different borders of the national capital since November 26 demanding repeal of these laws.

Earlier, participating in the debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Motion of Thanks to the President for his address to a joint sitting of both Houses of Parliament, Tomar lambasted the opposition over the ongoing farmers' agitation and said the farmers were "tricked" on the issue and that people of only one state had fallen victims to misunderstanding.

"The farm laws have been dubbed 'black'. But when I asked in every meeting held with farmers what was 'black' about these statutes so that I can fix these, nobody gave any answer," he said.

"The world knows that water is used for farming; only the Congress can do farming with blood," he quipped.

"The three agrarian reform laws is a burning issue today. Opposition leaders have not desisted from cursing the central government. They have called the laws 'black'...."

The Minister said that the government had enacted law {The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Production and Facilitation) Act, 2020} that provides for an area outside Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) to be declared a 'trade area' for agricultural crops.

"It can also be a farmer's home or farm. If there is trade outside APMC, then there will be no tax of any kind. The state government levies tax within the APMC, while the central government has abolished the tax outside it," he pointed out.

He wondered against whom should an agitation be launched -- those levying tax or those making it tax-free. "But things are moving in the wrong direction in the country. There is a movement against no tax," Tomar said.

The Minister reiterated that the Modi government was committed to the welfare of farmers across the country.

"We have continuously tried to accord respect to the farmers' protest. We held talks with them 12 times after sending out invitations with due respect. We have not spoken anything wrong about them. We have only asked them to point out anything amiss in the laws. We have tried to redress their grievances in tune with their feelings," Tomar said.

He said that the Centre had even proposed to farmer leaders that the government was ready to make amendments to the laws. "However, it does not mean that there are shortcomings in the laws. People of an entire state are victims of misunderstanding. The farmers have been hoodwinked into believing that these laws will take away their lands. Tell me one provision in contract farming law that allows a company from snatching a farmer's land," the Minister said.

The farmers are demanding the repeal of The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Production and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.

Tomar said that, as per the new farm laws, farmers can terminate their contract at any time and can withdraw from their agreement without any penalty.

Earlier in the day, Congress member in the Rajya Sabha from Haryana Deepender Hooda lashed out at the Centre for the serious situation arising out of the farmers' movement.

Tomar said that contract farming in Punjab has provisions that may land a farmer in jail with a fine of upto Rs 5 lakh, whereas the central government's new farm legislation gives complete liberty to a farmer.

The Minister said that there are about 20-22 states who have incorporated such provisions in contract farming.

"Farmers are being misled that the new legislations will take away their land. There is not a single provision in the contract farming law that says this."

IANS

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