Opposition to chalk strategy for repeal of farm laws

To meet and push for reversal during Budget session

Opposition parties are likely to meet next week to discuss the strategy ahead after the breakdown of talks between farmers’ groups and the government on the three farm laws.

Back channel conversations between parties have started and efforts will be made for a joint Opposition effort to repeal the three laws in the forthcoming Budget session, beginning on January 29.

To begin with only the Parliamentary floor leaders will meet to deliberate upon a strategy for the session. But sources said a bigger convention of Opposition parties is also on cards.

As a first step, the Left parties on Sunday issued a joint statement on the issue. Signed by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D. Raja, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, All India Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas and Revolutionary Socialist Party general secretary Manoj Bhattacharya, the statement urged the government to stop being “obstinate” and called the government proposal to suspend the laws for 18 months “a farce”.

“Already the government has conveyed its willingness to suspend these laws for 18 months. Acts that are legislated by Parliament, signed by the President of India and notified by the Gazette are law of the land. They cannot be suspended. Unless they are repealed, they are enforceable,” the statement said.

It is only reasonable, the Left parties said, for the government to hold discussions with farmers and other stakeholders, including State governments, before bringing in fresh bills.

The Left parties applauded the determination, unity and grit of lakhs of farmers who are camping on Delhi borders braving the extreme cold.

“The protest movements are gaining in strength, day by day. We hail their patriotic resolve to hold a ‘tractor parade’ on Republic Day, in defence of our Secular, Democratic Constitution and the repeal of these laws,” the statement said.

The Opposition parties have so far maintained a distance from the protest to preserve its apolitical character. A senior Opposition leader said parties will have to keep this balance intact. At the same time, they can’t be seen not doing anything. A joint delegation of Opposition parties has already met President Ram Nath Kovind on the issue.

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