The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Saturday appealed to the government to withdraw the three contentious farm laws at an all-party meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the smooth conduct of the Budget Session of Parliament.
According to sources, TMC MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay told the meeting that the prime minister must convene an all-party meeting for a threadbare discussion on the farmer issue.
"This will send a good message that the government is democratic. Twenty opposition parties boycotted the President's address (to the joint sitting of Parliament) which sent out a strong message for the government to withdraw the farm laws. Majoritarianism cannot let farmers suffer," a source quoted the TMC MP as having told the meeting.
Thousands of farmers have been protesting at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh demanding the rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. The protest took a violent turn during the farmers' tractor rally on January 26.
Addressing the all-party meeting, the prime minister said his government's offer on agri laws made to protesting farmers "still stands" and it was a "phone call away" for talks.
At Saturday's meeting, several leaders including Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress, Balwinder Singh Bhunder of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Vinayak Raut of the Shiv Sena raised the issue of protesting farmers, sources said.
TMC MP Bandyopadhyay also asked how could the President in his address to Parliament note that the 'one nation, one ration card' policy had been introduced when the Standing Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution was discussing the matter.
"The report is yet to be submitted. But (I am) surprised that the President's address said the policy had already been introduced. This has to be clarified," he was quoted as saying.
Sources said the TMC MP also raised the issues of unemployment and hunger and proposed a comprehensive debate on them in the House.
He also suggested that the federal structure has been weakened making it "very difficult" for states. "Our parliamentary democratic system has to be established firmly and the philosophy of secularism, communal harmony and unity of the country has to be reflected upon in a proper manner," the TMC MP was quoted as telling the all-party meeting.