The Prime Minister told the all-party meeting that there is no change in the government’s position and it has an open mind to discuss all issues the farmers want to raise, in what might be seen as an outreach after the violence and cases being filed against most of the farm union leaders who have been participating in the 11 rounds of talks held so far.
Noting the PM’s remarks, the farm unions’ umbrella body, Samyukta Kisan Morcha, said the groups too wanted to talk but they would stick to their core demands, including repeal of farm laws.
A few opposition party leaders demanded that cases registered against the agitating farmer leaders be withdrawn. The Prime Minister also condemned the desecration of the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the US, saying such incidents are not welcome.
The meeting also saw opposition parties bring up the ongoing military confrontation with China and said there should be a full-fledged discussion and the Prime Minister should respond to questions.
“As far as issues related to the farmers, which most of you have touched upon, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had on January 22 told the farm union leaders that since we are not reaching an agreement, please go back and ponder for 4-5 days,” Modi said, and added: “Tomar ji had said that he is just a phone call away and whenever farm leaders feel comfortable, they can give him a call and the time and venue for the meeting will be finalised in a few hours.”
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha said, “Farmers have come all the way to the doorstep of Delhi to converse with their elected government and, therefore, there is no question of the farmer organisations closing the door on talks with the government. They continue to seek a full repeal of the three farm laws and a legal entitlement guaranteeing MSP for all farmers.”
Urging party leaders to help end the deadlock over the three new farm laws, Modi asked them to talk to the farm union leaders. “Please tell leaders you may know that the offers made by Tomar ji still stand… you all must be desirous that the matter is resolved through dialogue.”
The Prime Minister said it is fair that there should be criticism of government policies as discussions lead to several new ideas. Modi said, “As most of you have condemned the violence which took place in New Delhi on January 26, yet another unfortunate incident happened in America where some mischievous elements desecrated the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. We all should think seriously about such hateful thinking for which there should not be space.”
“The Prime Minister reaffirmed the importance of smooth functioning of Parliament and comprehensive debates on the floor of the House. He added that frequent disruptions mean smaller parties suffer as they can’t express themselves adequately,” parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said.
Vinayak Raut of Shiv Sena demanded that the Centre discuss with Maharashtra its affidavit for the Supreme Court on the Maratha reservation issue so that it helps in vacation of the stay. He also demanded that Marathi-speaking Belgaum in Karnataka be declared a Union territory in view of alleged atrocities on Marathi people by the Karnataka government.