Chidambaram contests MEA assertion that farm laws were passed by Parliament after full debate

On Wednesday, the MEA issued a statement to counter the tweets by Rihanna and Greta Thunberg, both of whom have announced their support for the farmers’ agitation.

Former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday contested the statement of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) that the farm laws were passed in Parliament after a full debate and called the statement “a travesty of the truth”.

On Wednesday, the MEA issued a statement to counter the tweets by international singer Rihanna and environmental activist Greta Thunberg, both of whom have announced their support for the farmers’ agitation.

The tweets were part of “sensationalist” social media hashtag, the MEA said, and added that they were “neither accurate nor responsible”.

Mr. Chidambaram, who had earlier called the tweets by the international celebrities as a “wake-up call”, challenged the MEA’s contention in a series of tweets.

“MEA’s statement reads ‘The Parliament of India, after a full debate and discussion, passed reformist legislation relating to the agricultural sector’. That is a travesty of the truth,” Mr. Chidambaram said.

“The record of the Rajya Sabha and the video record will show that there was not a full discussion, microphones of some MPs were muted, and a call for division (that is a vote) was summarily rejected. If MEA distorts the truth on a matter where there is a record, who will believe MEA’s other statements?”asked the former Finance Minister while tagging the External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar.

‘Childish and silly’

His party colleague and Lok Sabha MP, Manish Tewari, said the MEA’s statement to counter the celebrity tweets was “childish and silly”.

At a press conference in Wednesday, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi refused to directly comment on the celebrity tweets, calling the farmers’ issue an internal matter, but he accused the BJP of damaging India’s reputation.

“The reputation of India has taken a massive hit. Not only on how we are treating our farmers [but] how we treat our own people, how we treat journalists; it has taken a massive hit. Our biggest strength, you can call it soft power, has been shattered by the BJP and the RSS,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Congress MP and former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said that the pushback by Indian celebrities to counter the tweets by Ms. Rihanna and Ms. Thunberg would not help improve the government’s image.

“For Government of India to get Indian celebrities to react to Western ones is embarrassing. The damage done to India’s global image by GoI’s obduracy & undemocratic behaviour can’t be remedied by a cricketer’s tweets. Withdraw the farm laws & discuss solutions w/farmers &you’ll get #IndiaTogether,” Mr. Tharoor tweeted late on Wednesday evening.

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