On Sunday evening, metres from the farmers’ protest at Singhu border, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy CM Manish Sisodia attended the kirtan-darbar commemorating the martyrdom of Guru Gobind Singh’s mother Mata Gujri ji and his chaar sahibzaadas (four sons) at the Guru Teg Bahadur Memorial. They addressed a gathering of over 200 and spoke about the farmers’ protest that has been on for a month.
Kejriwal said: “With folded hands, I appeal to the Centre… These are our people… Listen to them, withdraw the laws, and end their struggle. Aur kitni shahaadat lena chahte ho aap?”
Talking about the people who have died at or on the way to the protest, the CM said: “Right now, we are also feeling cold. I am wearing a jacket, a sweater, an inner, a muffler… Now think about the night time when it gets so cold… our farmer brothers, mothers, children have been forced to sleep on the road for 32 days. Why?”
Referring to the 2011 anti-corruption movement, he said, “During the Anna andolan, we were also defamed. Today, farmers are being called terrorists and anti-nationals… If that’s the case, who will feed you? Who will give you roti?”
He said farmers have been “betrayed for 70 years by all parties, politicians, who promise to waive loans, promised employment but that never happened”.
Through these laws, he said, the government wants to hand over farming to big corporates: “What will farmers do if you take farming away from them? Farmers are here today at the borders for their survival. Ab aar-paar ki ladai hai.”
He added, “The Central government fielded their big leaders, ministers… I heard all their speeches and not a single leader has talked about how these farm laws benefit farmers… As far as the benefits counted by these leaders go, the first, they say, is that land will not be taken away from farmers. Is this a benefit? MSP and mandis will not be revoked, is this a benefit? Why have you brought the bills then?”
The only benefit being spoken about, he said, is that farmers will be able to sell their produce anywhere in the country outside of mandis: “If the crop is being sold at Rs 800 per quintal in Bihar where there are no mandis, and the MSP is Rs 1,850 per quintal… where do our farmers from Bihar and UP sell their produce for more than Rs 1,850? They cannot even get 50% of the price outside mandis. This is not a benefit to farmers but to big firms, the rich.”
The CM said the whole country is now divided in two — “one half wants to benefit the rich by harming the farmers, the other is standing with farmers without caring for the rich”.
On “farmers being misled”, Kejriwal said he challenges the Centre to “send their experts to debate with farm leaders”.
Before the CM got on stage, Sisodia addressed the gathering and said, “Kejriwal ji is thinking 24 hours about farmers at Singhu border who have left their homes, farms… what are the adequate arrangements that need to be made for them…”
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