President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said that the three farm laws were passed in the Parliament after “extensive deliberation”. While addressing a joint sitting of the two Houses of the Parliament during the Budget session, Kovind said many political parties supported the agriculture reforms.
“The agriculture reforms immediately benefit more than 10 crore small farmers. Many political parties had given their full support to these reforms only after realising these benefits to small farmers,” President Kovind said. He continued, “Presently, the country’s highest court (Supreme Court) has postponed the implementation of the farm laws and the government will respect and follow SC’s decision.”
The President also praised the Centre for bringing various reforms for the betterment of the farmers and the agriculture sector. “The agriculture sector is a priority for my government. I am happy to announce that my government has set new records in buying at Minimum Selling Price from farmers at one-and-a-half times more than the cost based on recommendations of the Swaminathan Committee report on the agriculture sector. Under the per drop-more crop initiative, my government is working round-the-clock to ensure a better product for our farmers,” Kovind added.
In his address, Kovind mentioned that more attention must be given to small and marginal farmers, who have less than two hectares of in the agricultural sector. “More than 80% of the farmers are small scale and their number is more than 10 crore. These farmers are the priority of the government. To support such farmers, under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi, around Rs 113,000 crore has been transferred directly to their accounts,” he said.
Though President Kovind stated that the opposition supported the laws, ironically, over 16 opposition political parties boycotted the President’s address over forcible passing of the three contentious farm laws in the Parliament. Many in opposition leaders held placards and raised slogans during the President’s address inside and outside the parliament building. On Thursday, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad stated that the parties would be boycotting the President’s address. “The main issue for the boycott are the farm laws. Sixteen parties have decided to jointly boycott President Ram Nath Kovind’s address in the Parliament,” he had said.
“Shocked by this insensitivity of the government, the following opposition political parties, reaffirming the collective demand for the repeal of the anti-farmer laws and in solidarity with the Indian farmers, have decided to boycott the President’s address to both Houses of Parliament on Friday, January 29, 2021,” the statement said. “Farmers in India have been collectively fighting against the three farm laws, imposed by the BJP government. These laws threaten the future of Indian agriculture which sustains over 60% of the country’s population and the livelihood of crores of farmers, sharecroppers and farm labour,” the joint statement added.
The opposition’s statement also questions the validity of the three contentious farm laws, “The very constitutional validity of these laws remains in question. The farm bills were formed without consulting with the State governments or the farmers’ unions and lack national consensus. The three laws were passed by stifling the opposition.”
Meanwhile, the Union ministers urged the opposition parties to attend the President’s address, but the opposition did not. Minister of State (MOS) of Parliamentary Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal appealed to opposition parties to attend President Kovind’s address saying it was not political. “It is unfortunate that they have decided to boycott it. The opposition should attend it. The President’s address to Parliament is not a political thing,” he told a news agency.
MOS of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi said that protesting parties should respect the office of the President. “The protesting parties can hold discussions on the President’s address. They should come to the House after protesting and should hold discussions,” Joshi said.
However, Union Ministers Giriraj Singh lashed out at the opposition for boycotting the address. “They are shredding the dignity of democracy. In a parliamentary system, the President has his dignity and boycotting his address is insulting him,” he said.