A day after India conveyed strong opposition to “unwarranted, tendentious discussion” on the contentious farm laws in the UK Parliament, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has said the incident is the spirit of “give and take” between democracies.
“I don’t think there is something so surprising. We should take it as a normal give and take that happen between democracies,” Tharoor said on Thursday.
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“Just as we, in India, can discuss say the Palestine-Israel issue as we have done in the past or we can discuss if we so choose any other domestic issue of a foreign country, British Parliament has the same right,” he added.
Regarding New Delhi’s summon to the British High Commission, the senior leader said: “I don’t blame the Government of India for doing its job, for speaking up for its point of view. But we must recognise there is another point of view and that in democracies, elected representatives are free to air their points of view.”
The central government had on Wednesday summoned the envoy and conveyed “strong opposition to unwarranted and tendentious discussion on agricultural reforms in India in the British Parliament”.
It was made clear that this represented a gross interference in the politics of another democratic country. Foreign secretary Harsh Shringla advised that “British MPs should refrain from practising vote bank politics by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy.”
India has earlier emphasised that the protests by farmers must be seen in the context of India’s democratic ethos and polity and the Ministry of External Affairs said that some vested interest groups have tried to mobilise international support against the country.
“Before rushing to comment on such matters, we would urge that the facts be ascertained, and a proper understanding of the issues at hand be undertaken,” it said last month.
The UK Parliament debate was held on Monday, during which dozen cross-party British MPs deliberated on issues around the “use of force” against protesters opposed to agricultural reforms in India and journalists being targeted while covering the protests taking place at several border points of Delhi for over 100 days.
Meanwhile, farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points, including Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur, since 26 November last year, demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws and a legal guarantee on the minimum support price for their crops.