New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday slammed incidents of violence on Republic Day during tractor rally of agitating farmers in the Capital and asserted that the government will respect the Supreme Court's decision on the farmers' protests while trying to iron out misgivings over farm laws.
Addressing a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament on the opening day of the Budget session, the President defended the three farm laws passed by Parliament last year. "Farmers recently carried out a tractor rally. However, there was violence during the protests and there were incidents of insulting that national flag at Red Fort on Republic Day. This was very unfortunate," President Kovind said.
"Our constitution, for which we celebrate our Republic Day, tells us about the freedoms we enjoy, but it also tells us our responsibility as citizens to ensure that having respect for the law and maintaining order is our duty,' he told the lawmakers who were seated in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha chambers apart from Central Hall in keeping with Covid-19 health protocols of maintaining distance.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar were among those seated in the Central Hall.
In his hour-long address in Hindi to the joint session, President Kovind right in the beginning paid tributes to late President Pranab Mukherjee as well as MPs who lost their lives during the Corona pandemic. He also lauded India for its massive vaccination drive which is the world's largest such campaign.
President Kovind said: “It is a matter of pride that India is running the biggest vaccination programme in the world. Both vaccines of this programme are made in India. In this crisis, India shouldered its responsibility towards mankind and provided lakhs of doses of vaccines to several nations.”
Dwelling upon the contentious issue of retaining the Minimum Selling Price (MSP) regime, the President said, “We implemented the Swaminathan Commission report on MSP. We are focussing on micro irrigation.”
“We are happy that farmers are getting the benefits of several scheme taken by the government. The country witnessed record production of crops, fruits and vegetables. The government has taken several decisions for small farmers,” he added while praising the efforts of the Modi government.
Speaking about the three farm laws that have created an unsavoury situation for the Modi government as a large number of farmers embarked upon massive protests across states, President Kovind defended the laws.
“The government has implemented three farmer's bills after proper consultation seven month back. This is going to benefit 10 crore small farmers. Many political parties supported these views in the past. These bills were debated properly in the Parliament, but have now been put on hold after a Supreme Court decision,' he said.
“My government would like to clarify that the rights and facilities that were available before the formation of the three farm laws have not been cut short, in fact with these new agricultural reforms the government has provided new facilities and rights to farmers,' he said.
President Kovind dwelt upon rural development, direct benefit transfer, rural roads, infrastructure, defence capabilities, social and health sectors, listing out achievements of the Modi government. Portions of his speech were read out by Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu in English.(UNI)