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Govt offer on farm laws still stands; phone call away for talks: PM Modi in all-party meeting

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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday told an all-party meeting that the Centre’s proposal to farmers on the three agriculture laws still stands.

The Centre had offered to stay the implementation of the contentious laws for a period of 12-18 months in an attempt to break the deadlock with the protesting farmer unions. However, the farmer unions had rejected the offer and insisted on a complete repeal of the laws.

Sources said that Modi, who chaired the meeting, told party leaders in a virtual address that his government has been continuously trying to resolve the issues of farmers through talks.

The Prime Minister further told the party leaders that Union agriculture minister Narendra Tomar is “just a phone call away” for the protesting farmers and the same has been conveyed to the unions.

Sharing the details of the meeting, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi said, “The Prime Minister assured that the Centre is approaching the farmers issue with an open mind.”

“The Prime Minister said the Centre’s stand is same as it was on January 22, the last meeting between the protesting farmers and the Centre and proposal given by agriculture minister on the farm laws still stands. Modiji reiterated what Tomarji had said – that he (Narendra Singh Tomar) is phone call away for talks,” Joshi said quoting Modi.

Speaking on the issue of violence during the farmers’ tractor parade on Republic Day, Modi reportedly said the the “law will take its own course.”

The all-party meeting is convened for the government to put forth its legislative agenda before political parties.

Leaders from various parties flag issues they wish to raise during the meeting.

Opposition seeks debate on farmers agitation

At Friday’s meeting, various leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad of Congress, Sudip Bandyopadhyay of Trinamool Congress, Balwinder Singh Bhunder of Shiromani Akali Dal and Vinayak Raut of Shiv Sena raised the issue of protesting farmers, sources said.

They also reportedly asked the government not to see them as “enemies”.

Azad said during the meeting that Congress had already warned the government about the agitation and now it has to deal with the consequences, according to sources.

Most opposition leaders were of the view that the government needs to discuss the laws again in both houses of Parliament and also seek to address the misgivings of the agitating farmers.

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