Govt rebukes British Parliament debate on India's agri reforms, calls it 'gross interference'

    10-Mar-2021   
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New Delhi: Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla on Tuesday summoned British High Commissioner Alexander Ellis and conveyed India's "strong opposition to the unwarranted and tendentious discussion" on agricultural reforms in India in the British Parliament.
 
"Foreign Secretary made clear that this represented a gross interference in the politics of another democratic country," an MEA statement said.
 
He advised that British MPs should refrain from "practising vote bank politics" by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy.
 
It may be mentioned that the 'debate' in British Parliament on farmers' stir in Delhi took place despite External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar holding tele talks with British Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab on March 3.
 
"Nice talking to UK Foreign Secretary @DominicRaab. Reviewed the progress in our bilateral cooperation. Also discussed regional and UN issues," Dr Jaishankar had tweeted.
 
Though nothing in details were shared on what transpired between two Ministers, importantly, the interaction came days before the British House of Commons was slated to take up for debate the issue of press freedom and safety of protesters in India on March 8.
 
Interestingly, envoy Alexander Ellis had himself sometime back said that the farm laws and issues related in India were 'internal matters' of India.
 
However, the British High Commissioner had said the issue was slated for debate due to a parliamentary process and the British government had no option other than to participate in the debate and give a response.
 
"We deeply regret that rather than a balanced debate, false assertions – without substantiation or facts – were made, casting aspersions on the largest functioning democracy in the world and its institutions,” a statement issued by the Indian High Commission has said in London.
 
Contrary to what the farmers leaders and opposition parties have been stating, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government have repeatedly insisted the laws will improve farmers' incomes.
 
During the debate in UK Parliament, SNP MP Martin Day has said, "Water cannons and tear gas and repeated clashes between police and farmers and interruption in internet connectivity have been matters of concern".
 
MEA spokesman Anurag Srivastava had said earlier that any protests (against three farm reform laws) must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity, and the ongoing efforts of the Government and the concerned farmer groups to resolve the impasse.