Farm laws: Oppn parties step up attack on govt

Farm laws: Oppn parties step up attack on govt

New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government was just a "phone call away" for talks with the farmers agitating against the farm laws, the opposition parties are likely to raise the issue of farm laws vociferously in Parliament and have already stepped up attack on the government.

Prime Minister Modi had on Saturday said his government's offer on agri laws made to protesting farmers "still stands" and the Centre was just a "phone call away" for talks, days after violence broke out in parts of the national capital on Republic Day.

During their January 26 parade, scores of protesters had stormed the Red Fort, with some of them hoisting religious flags on its ramparts.

Several parties, including the Congress and the SAD, and media bodies on Sunday condemned the police action against two journalists who were picked up during the farmers' protests at the Singhu border for allegedly misbehaving with police personnel.

They said such crackdowns impinge on the media's right to report freely and interferes with its right to freedom of expression.

Freelance journalist Mandeep Punia and Dharmender Singh (with Online News India) were detained by Delhi Police on Saturday evening for allegedly misbehaving with personnel on duty.

While Singh was later released, the police arrested Punia on Sunday.

The Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Club of India and the Press Association demanded Punia's immediate release and said no journalist should be disturbed while carrying out their duties at any place.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said the farmers were deeply hurt by the the BJP's moves to "defame" them.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar expressed dismay over NCP supremo Sharad Pawar's tweets criticising the farm laws, saying they were a mix of "ignorance and misinformation" about the legislation, and hoped that the veteran leader will change his stand after knowing the "facts".

In a series of tweets, Pawar had on Saturday said the new agriculture laws of the Union government will adversely impact the Minimum Support Price (MSP) procurement and weaken the `Mandi' system.

Tomar said Pawar, who is a veteran leader, is also considered well-versed with the issues and solutions relating to agriculture. "Pawar himself tried hard to bring the same agriculture reforms earlier."

"Since he speaks with some experience and expertise on the issue, it was dismaying to see his tweets employ a mix of ignorance and misinformation on the agriculture reforms. Let me take this opportunity to present some facts," Tomar said on Twitter and went on to stress that the "apprehensions" expressed by Pawar have no basis.

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