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Narendra Singh Tomar defends farm laws ahead of chakka jam on Saturday

Unions say they won't enter Delhi; UP and Uttarakhand exempted

Narendra Singh Tomar | farmer protests

Sanjeeb Mukherjee & Agencies  |  New Delhi 

Narendra Singh Tomar
Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar

As a belligerent Opposition continued to attack the central government on the three farm Acts in Parliament, Union Agriculture Minister defended the laws in a speech in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, saying the farmers’ unions and Opposition parties haven’t been able to point out any flaws in the laws.

This came just a day before the nationwide chakka jam announced by farmer unions between 12 pm and 3 pm on Saturday.

However, the Delhi Capital Region and Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have been exempted from the stir. The protesting farmers have also decided not to enter Delhi.

“Due to prevailing agriculture operations in UP and Uttarakhand, the chakka jam has been withdrawn from these states and instead the protesting farmers will submit a memorandum to their respective district magistrates,” read a statement by the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) faction led by Rakesh Tikait.

Meanwhile, intervening during the motion of thanks to the President’s address to both houses of Parliament at the start of the Budget session, Tomar said despite the Acts not containing any flaws, the Centre has offered to amend them to respect the sentiment of the protesting farmers.

Tomar, along with two other Union ministers, has held 11 meetings with farmers’ representatives in the wake of the protests, but the deadlock continues.

Tomar reiterated that the NDA government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is fully committed towards farmers. He said the government has held several rounds of talks while respecting their protest.

Prime Minister Modi lauded Tomar’s remarks, saying he has given detailed information on every aspect of the legislations. In a tweet, Modi posted a video link to Tomar's statement and said it is his humble request that people hear his speech.

Participating in the debate, the Shiv Sena, SAD, NCP, Samajwadi Party and Left parties demanded that the three laws be repealed and fresh ones brought in after wider consultations.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut alleged that anyone speaking the truth is dubbed a “traitor” or “anti-national” and that cases of sedition have been slapped against those criticising the government.

“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,” BJP member Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe said in the Rajya Sabha.

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First Published: Sat, February 06 2021. 01:02 IST