The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) O Rajagopal, who had supported the unanimous resolution passed by the Kerala legislative assembly against the Centre’s three farm laws, has now said he had argued that the central government was “always ready for the talks”.
Rajagopal, the BJP’s only member in Kerala, issued a statement later on Thursday, saying he “opposed the resolution” adopted by the assembly. “I have strongly opposed the resolution against farm laws today in the assembly. I did not oppose the central government. I said that the farm laws were very beneficial to the farmers. When ruling and opposition MLAs alleged that the Prime Minister was not negotiating with the farmers, I argued that the central government was always ready for the talks,” Rajagopal said in a statement, according to news agency ANI.
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“I said that farmer unions stand that they would engage in dialogue only after withdrawing the farm laws is the reason for the protests to continue in a prolonged manner. The statements that I am against the central government are baseless,” he added.
Rajagopal, who represents the Nemom constituency in Thiruvananthapuram, had spoken against the resolution in the House initially but when it was put to voice vote he did not stage a walkout and supported it. After the session, when reporters asked him about it, he said he supported the resolution in accordance with the “democratic spirit of the house”. “I raised my disagreement in clear terms. But I supported the substance of the resolution in accordance with the democratic spirit. Nothing big about it, in a democracy such compromises are common,” he had said.
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The BJP leader said that Congress had earlier included similar farm laws in its manifesto. “I have made it clear that Congress in their election manifesto had included similar farm laws and that the CPI(M) too has demanded it through a resolution. The speaker did not ask during voting about those who support the resolution and those who oppose it. It was reduced to a single question without being asked separately, which is a violation of the norms,” Rajagopal said.
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K Surendran, the BJP’s state unit president, had said he will talk to Rajagopal after he supported the farm laws. “There is no difference of opinion in the party. He is a senior leader and we don’t think he will support the resolution. I will talk to him about this,” Surendran said.
The Kerala assembly passed the resolution, which was introduced by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, unanimously against the three farm laws during the special session. “The Centre wants to corporatise the farm sector. It must come forward to allay farmers’ fears. The entire country is with them. It should recognise public sentiment and withdraw the new laws,” Vijayan had said.
The resolution in the Kerala assembly came a day after the protesting farmers and the government held the fifth round of talks on Wednesday. They reached consensus on two of four issues on the agenda. Farmer leaders have been protesting on borders of Delhi since November 26 against the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.