India summons British envoy over farm laws debate in UK Parliament

India summons British envoy over farm laws debate in UK Parliament

Foreign Secretary Harshvardhan Shringla on Tuesday summoned the British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, and “conveyed strong opposition to the unwarranted and tendentious discussion on agricultural reforms in India in the British Parliament”.

The foreign secretary said that the debate in the UK Parliament represented “a gross interference in the politics of another democratic country”. According to a press statement from the Ministry of External Affairs, Shringla told the envoy that the British MPs should refrain from “practising vote bank politics by misrepresenting events, especially in relation to another fellow democracy.”

The issue of protests against the farm reform laws has garnered interest in countries with strong Indian diasporas, like the UK, the US and Canada. 

The UK government has said this is an internal matter of India. Ellis, in a briefing with journalists last week, had said that discussions in parliament, among elected representatives, didn’t necessarily represent the government’s stand. He did not respond to queries on whether India had spoken to the UK government about this placed discussion but noted that as the diaspora gets more influential, and India’s status itself rises on the world stage, such incidents will become more frequent and India will have to reckon how it deals with them.

The US government had, last month, issued a measured statement, welcoming “steps that would improve the efficiency of India’s markets and attract greater private sector investment”while at the same time saying that it encourages dialogue to resolve any differences between the parties. Several US lawmakers, however, have been vocal against the laws.

In December, India had issued a demarche to the Canadian high commissioner, after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as several lawmakers spoke against the new Indian laws. India accused Canada of inviting extremist activities through such remarks. Trudeau had insisted that Canada would stand up for the right to peaceful protest anywhere in the world. The war of words between the two countries went on for some days, but later, the two sides had cordial talks on vaccine cooperation.

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