New Delhi: In his customary joint address to Parliament — which was boycotted by 20 Opposition parties led by the Congress in solidarity with farmers’ protests seeking the repeal of three farm laws — President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday defended the controversial legislations and slammed as “‘very unfortunate” the violence during the farmers’ tractor parade on Republic Day.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister while addressing media persons on the first day of the Budget session, said that finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had to give around five mini budgets (the Atmanirbhar packages announced by her since May 2020) last year and expressed confidence that the upcoming Union Budget would be considered a part of that series.
Congress MP Ravneet Singh Bittu raised slogans like “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan” during Kovind’s hour-long address and demanded repeal of the three farm laws.
Some other Opposition MPs could also be heard raising slogans in the Central Hall’s gallery.
Kovind noted that the farm laws enacted in September last year have immediately benefited 10 crore small farmers, and said various parties in the past had supported these measures.
Criticising the violence which marred the farmers’ protest on the Republic Day, he said if the Constitution gives us the right to freedom of expression, it also teaches us to take laws and rules seriously.
“My government has always respected freedom of expression and holding of peaceful agitations in a democratic set up. However, the recent acts of dishonouring the National Flag and showing disrespect to the auspicious occasion of the Republic Day are unfortunate,” the President said.
He further added that rights and facilities available under the system prevailing before the enactment of the three new laws are not affected in any way. “Rather, through these agricultural reforms, the government has provided new facilities to the farmers and has empowered them,” he said.
Referring to the country’s vaccination programme, the President said, “It is a matter of immense pride that India is conducting the world’s largest vaccination programme. Both the vaccines rolled out under this programme are produced indigenously.”