Congress MP Shashi Tharoor
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor
File Photo

New Delhi: After New Delhi summoned the UK envoy on Tuesday over "unwarranted discussion" in British parliament on the farmers' protest in India, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor justified the debate, saying that in a democracy you are free to discuss whatever you want.

"Just as we, in India, can discuss say the Palestine-Israel issue, as we've done in the past, or any other domestic issue of a foreign country, as we so choose, British parliament has the same right," said Tharoor, who was also MoS External Affairs during the UPA regime.

"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," he added.

"I don't think this is something so surprising. We should take it as normal give-and-take that happens between democracies," added Tharoor.

India had summoned the British High Commissioner over an "unwarranted discussion" in British parliament on the farmers' protest in India.

Farmers have been camping at several Delhi border points for over three months now, demanding a complete repeal of the three farm laws.

Summoned the British High Commissioner on Tuesday, India conveyed its strong opposition to the "unwarranted and tendentious" discussion on India's agri reforms and protests in UK parliament, describing it a "gross interference" in politics of another country.

"Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla made clear that this represented a gross interference in the politics of another democratic country. He advised that British MPs should refrain from practising vote bank politics by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

The debate stemmed from an e-petition that attracted over 100,000 signatures on the parliamentary website.

It said a false narrative over the farmers' protest was sought to be developed even though "the High Commission of India has been, over a period of time, taking care to inform all concerned about the issues raised in the petition".

Farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November last year, demanding that the government repeal the three new farm laws and provide legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for their crops.

As the UK government minister deputed to respond to the debate, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) minister Nigel Adams said the close UK-India relationship did not hinder the UK in any way from raising "difficult issues" with India, even as he reiterated the government line that agricultural reforms are a "domestic matter" for India.

(With inputs from agencies)

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