New Delhi:Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi on Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has informed in an all-party meeting that the government's offer to farmers protesting against three agricultural bills "still stands" and that he is just "a phone call away" for any discussion.
"Mr Modi, at the end of the meeting, told political parties that the government stand made during the last meeting with the farm leaders still holds," Mr Joshi told mediapersons.
The remarks from Mr Modi hold significance as the protest by tens of thousands of farmers against the bills had turned violent on the Republic Day and led to national insult as a "religious flag" was planted by a group of miscreants at the ramparts of historic Red Fort.
Mr Joshi said the Prime Minister also urged 'big' political parties, including his own Bharatiya Janata Party, to avoid disruptions in Parliament as among other things it also leads to loss of time of smaller parties.
The Opposition parties, with almost all of them participating in the meeting called before the Budget presentation, demanded discussion of farm bills in Lok Sabha as well as debates on other "important" issues, the Minister said.
The government will agree to the opposition's demand, Mr Joshi said, provided the discussion takes place on the offer Agricultural Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has made to the farmers.
Farm Bills were passed in the monsoon session of Parliament last year. The opposition has repeatedly alleged that the bills were passed forcefully without proper discussion in both the Houses.
On Friday, as many as 18 opposition parties boycotted the Presidential address to both the Houses as a mark of protest against the bills and sympathy towards protesting farmers.
The Budget session began from Friday. The previous winter session of Parliament was given a miss due to Covid-19 scare. The Union Budget will be tabled by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman on February 1, Monday.
The three farm bills allow private players to enter the agricultural market. Many farmers fear that it will do away with decades old practise of Minimum Support Price and Mandi system.Farmers, particularly from north Indian states, are protesting at Delhi's borders for more than two months.(UNI)