President: Red Fort violence 'unfortunate', govt will go by SC order on farm laws
President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday (January 29) defended the three controversial agriculture laws that have triggered farmer protests and condemned as “very unfortunate” the violence that erupted during the tractor parade on Republic Day.
Kovind was addressing the customary joint sitting of Parliament on the first day of the Budget session on Friday. The President’s address was boycotted by over 20 opposition parties in support of the farmers’ demand that the three laws be repealed.
The Centre and various farmers’ unions have held 11 rounds of talks that have not been able to end the stalemate. The Supreme Court has appointed a panel of experts to facilitate talks and take suggestions from both sides. The Centre has offered to suspend the implementation of the farm laws for a year-and-a-half and has said it will respect the Supreme Court order.
The farmer unions have reiterated that they expect a repeal of the three laws, which the government insists would enhance farmers’ income.
The President said the government was trying to resolve misgivings over the laws. “If the Constitution gives us the right to freedom of expression, it also teaches us to take laws and rules seriously,” he said.
The farm laws, he said, were passed after extensive deliberations and had “immediately benefited” 10 crore small farmers. “Today, there are more than 80 per cent small farmers, who number over 10 crore. The biggest beneficiaries of the new laws are these small farmers,” said the President.
During the address, some opposition MPs, including Congress’ Ravneet Singh Bittu, raised slogans like ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ and demanded that the laws be revoked.
“The joint session of Parliament amid the corona pandemic is essential. It’s a new year and a new decade…we’re also entering the 75th year of independence. Today, all MPs are present here with the message and trust that however tough be the challenge, neither we nor India will stop,” Kovind said.
The President said timely actions taken by the Centre saved the lives of millions of Indians. “I am satisfied that the timely decision taken by my government saved the lives of lakhs of citizens. Today, the number of new COVID-19 cases is going down rapidly. The number of recoveries is very high,” he said.
Kovind said it was a matter of pride that India was running the largest vaccination programme in the world. “The Centre shouldered its responsibility towards mankind and provided lakhs of vaccine doses to numerous countries.
“We have seen huge benefits of the work done by my government in the last six years in the health sector during the corona crisis,” he said.
The President pointed out that the Indian economy was recovering from the damage that it suffered during the worst days of the pandemic.
In its latest report, the International Monetary Fund projected a 11.5 per cent growth rate for India in 2021, making India the only major economy of the world to register a double-digit growth in 2021.
The first part of the ongoing budget session will continue till February 15. The second part will be held between March 8 and April 8.
All eyes are set on February 1 when the Union Budget will be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who is expected to further boost spending to reboot the economy.