President Ram Nath Kovind
President Ram Nath Kovind on January 29 condemned the violence that took place during the January 26 tractor rally. He asserted that with the new three agricultural reforms, the government has provided new facilities and rights to farmers.
“The insult to the Tricolour on Republic Day is very unfortunate. The Constitution that provides us freedom of expression is the same Constitution that teaches us that law and rules have to be followed seriously,” the President said addressing the members at the Budget session of the Parliament that began on January 29. The Budget will be presented in the Parliament on February 1.
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The national capital witnessed unprecedented scenes of chaos and violence during the tractor march by farmers on Republic Day as hundreds of protesters broke away from a rally on the city outskirts and stormed Red Fort with others breaching barricades and clashing with police in other parts of the capital. The protesters hoisted a religious flag just next to the national flag at the Red Fort during the protests.
The President said that the more than 100 million farmers had benefited from farm laws passed after detailed discussions seven months ago and currently stayed by Supreme Court. He said the Centre is working constantly to remove misconceptions related to farm laws and successive governments had been pushing for the agri-reform laws.
“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.
The President address to the members of both the Houses sitting in three different halls-Central Hall, Lok Sabha, and Rajya Sabha, for the first time due to COVID-19 protocols.
The Congress and at least 17 Opposition parties boycotted the President's address in solidarity with farmers' protest against the three farm laws, which the opposition alleges, were passed arbitrarily in the Monsoon session.
Enacted in September 2020, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector. But, thousands of protesting farmers, primarily from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points for over two months, demanding the repeal of the laws, and a legal guarantee on minimum support prices (MSP) for their crops.
The President also highlighted how the country had come together over the last year to overcome several adversities, such as pandemic, floods, earthquakes, attacks, and bird flu. He also mentioned the India-China standoff at LAC in Ladakh saying that the nation was grateful to Galwan martyrs.
“Twenty jawans made the supreme sacrifice in Galwan valley in June 2020. Every citizen is grateful to these martyrs. My government is committed to the protection of the interests of the nation. Extra Forces have been deployed at LAC for protection of India's sovereignty,” he said.
The President applauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic saying that a timely decision taken by the government saved the lives of lakhs of citizens.
“It is a matter of pride that India is running the biggest vaccination program in the world. Both vaccines of this program are made in India. In this crisis India shouldered its responsibility towards mankind & provided lakhs of doses of vaccines to several nations,” he said.
The President said that India was committed to delivering Covid-19 vaccines globally.
"India supplied essential medicines to more than 150 countries along with meeting the domestic needs of the country. India is committed to ensuring vaccine availability globally... The Vande Bharat Mission, which is the largest such campaign in the world, is being appreciated. India has brought back nearly 50 lakh Indians from all parts of the world, as well as more than one lakh foreign nationals to their own countries,"
The President also paid tributes to former President Pranab Mukherjee and six MPs who passed away in this Corona period. He also mentioned the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and the construction of Ram Temple, saying the country has done many tasks that were once considered difficult in the past year.