Opposition parties have said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s allegations against them of “spreading lies” on the farm laws is a “travesty of truth”. They also sought to put some distance between themselves and the ongoing farmers’ protests, claiming that the protesters have come together on their own. The signatories to a joint statement include former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, NCP patriarch Sharad Pawar, chairperson of People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration Farooq Abdullah, DMK leader T.R. Baalu, RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav, Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D. Raja, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, All India Forward Bloc leader Debabrata Biswas and Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Manoj Bhattacharya. The Opposition parties said that they have only expressed solidarity with the protesting farmers. “The call for this ongoing historic struggle was given by more than 500 kisan organisations from all over the country under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha [SKM].” The parties said the “unity, grit and determination” shown by lakhs of farmers in the midst of a severe cold wave was a testimony to the fact that farmers across the country had risen in opposition to the farm laws. So far, 32 farmers have lost their lives in this agitation, the parties stated. They pointed out that they had protested against these laws in Parliament. And that the MPs who sought a vote during the passage of the agri Bills were suspended. “Amongst the many unsubstantiated accusations made, one of them is that those who spoke of agrarian reforms in election manifestos earlier but are now opposing. Yes, we are for reforms, but what sort of reforms? Opposition parties seek reforms to strengthen Indian agriculture; enhance the prosperity of our farmers; and ensure continued food security for our people and the country. The present farm laws undermine these very objectives,” the statement said. The BJP had pulled out the Congress’s manifesto and Mr. Pawar’s old letters to point out that the Opposition parties were working towards similar laws. Mr. Modi had repeatedly assured farmers that the MSP would not be removed and accused the Opposition of spreading “big lies”. While he talked of implementing the Swaminathan Commission report, in reality his government had expressed its inability to implement the MSP rate proposed by the commission, the parties said. “Likewise, there was accusation that Opposition parties are “shooting from the shoulders of the farmers” in order to “regain lost political ground”. Despite all tall claims of improving farmers’ prosperity and implementing a higher MSP, the fact remains that farmers’ distress due to indebtedness is growing, leaving a record number of them with no other recourse than committing suicides,” the statement noted. The Opposition had once again demanded the repeal of the three farm laws. The government should hold a discussion on agrarian reforms with farmers and all stakeholders and draft new laws based on these consultations, it added.