NEW DELHI (INDIA) – The Indian National Congress, the main opposition party in India, pressured the federal government on Thursday to host a special parliamentary session to repeal the new farm laws that farmers say will place them at the mercy of big corporates.
Rahul Gandhi, a senior leader from the Congress party, handed the president a copy of a petition that he said had attracted 20 million signatures online.
“The prime minister wants to help two, three business people” by introducing the farm laws, said Gandhi, the great-grandson of India’s founding prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
The government says the reforms passed in September are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market.
Tens of thousands of farmers have camped out on national highways for weeks demanding the government withdraw the laws that they fear will eventually dismantle regulated markets and stop the government buying wheat and rice at guaranteed prices.
Six rounds of talks between government officials and farmer union leaders have failed to resolve the deadlock. Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week offered to “very humbly” hold further discussions.
On Thursday, the government again invited protesting farmers to further talks.
Farmers union leaders have accused the government of trying to weaken and discredit them by describing protesting farmers as “anti-nationals”.