The months-long farm law agitation left its mark on Day-1 of the Budget Session of Parliament today as expected. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman listed out the achievements in the agricultural sector under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government and claimed it was "committed to the welfare of farmers". That was, however, after three "black-clad" Congress MPs from Punjab had expressed their solidarity with the thousands of farmers who have been protesting along Delhi's border against three pieces of Central legislation.
The three Parliamentarians, Gurjeet Singh Aujla, Jasbir Singh Gill, and Ravneet Singh Bittu, wore black robes in Lok Sabha during the presentation of the Union Budget. Their robes carried various slogans such as "I am a farmer...do not deceive me" and "Black laws should be scrapped".
Since the budget presentation was a constitutional function, they said they did not disturb it.
The three also met Congress leader Rahul Gandhi inside Parliament, informing him of the protest.
The Congress party has been demanding the repeal of the farm laws and has backed the protesting farmers.
The laws that the farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh want to be repealed are Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm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.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister set the agricultural credit target for this year at 16.5 lakh crore. She also said 1,000 more mandis would be integrated with the government's national digital agricultural trading platform "eNAM".
Ms Sitharaman said farmers were last year paid Rs 75,100 crore on wheat in the form of minimum support price and over 43 lakh wheat-growing farmers had benefited from the MSP as against 35.57 lakh the previous year. The budget has increased the Agri Infrastructure Fund to Rs 40,000 crore and the Micro Irrigation Corpus doubled to Rs 10,000 crore.