A three-member BJP delegation met Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Agriculture Minister Narendera Singh Tomar Sunday afternoon seeking to arrange a meeting between them and farmer unions amid the latter’s agitation against the Centre’s farm laws.
The delegation was led by former Cabinet minister Surjit Kumar Jayani, chairman of the eight-member panel of BJP to coordinate with protesting farmer unions in Punjab. Jayani said, “We have met with both and have apprised them about the condition of protests in Punjab. We have given them feedback from farmer unions, have conveyed in detail about their demands and now are all set to get a meeting of farmer union leaders arranged with the Home Minister as well as Agriculture Minister. Delhi is serious about farmers and they are very concerned about them, hence we want to get their meeting arranged as soon as possible. Both ministers are keen to meet with the farmers so as to hear them and get their issues resolved.”
Jayani had also apprised Balbir Singh Rajewal, president of BKU (Rajewal) over phone, of the discussion with both Union ministers. Sources revealed that defence minister also spoke with Rajewal over phone. Rajewal , while speaking to The Indian Express, said, “Jayani had called me up on Saturday as well as Sunday, on behalf of all the 30 unions I told him that we will respond once a formal invitation for a meeting comes in writing to us. All 30 farmer unions will have a meeting after that and later we will decide who all will go to meet the ministers and who will be the spokespersons.We told them we should be extended an invitation at least 4-5 days in advance as we have to discuss with 30 farmer unions and all are spread out in Punjab. Rest, let’s see as when the invitation comes. We have asked them to get our meeting arranged either a day before Diwali or after Diwali.” However Rajewal didn’t confirm that he spoke with Defence Minister.
Sources said Rajnath has invited the farmers to his place over lunch and has stated that Tomar will also join Rajnath to talk to farmers. Rajnath also spoke to Railways Minister Piyush Goyal over the issue of suspension of trains in Punjab, sources said. Jayani however said, “Trains issue will also be resolved soon. All issues are resolved over the table and we are hopeful that this meeting will yield results for sure.” The other two members who went for the meeting were Bikramjeet Singh Cheema, president, Kisan Morcha BJP, Punjab, and H S Grewal, from the 8-member panel of BJP to talk with farmers. Meanwhile, this panel was formed a month ago, however so far they could not yield any results.
State president Ashwani Sharma said, “We are hopeful that the issue will be resolved soon, our three-member delegation has been called to Delhi to meet the Defence Minister and Agriculture Minister. They went to give feedback of farmers so that the Ministers are aware of the issues on which talks are to be held soon.”
This was the third meeting of Punjab BJP leaders with the national leadership in a week. In Punjab, farmers have staged day-night dharnas outside houses of 12 BJP leaders’ houses and they also stage protests against leaders whenever they come to public places for party meetings etc.
‘We will not betray you’
Senior BJP leader and former Punjab minister Manoranjan Kalia came to the house of Yadwinder Shanty, BJP president, Barnala district, at around 10 am Saturday. As soon as he entered inside Shanty’s house, farmers of BKU (Ugrahan) gheraoed the house till 4 pm. Kalia addressed the farmers at 4 pm and later was allowed to leave. Meanwhile farmers had been sitting outside the house for more than 20 days.
Kalia said, “Assi Punjab da ann jal khada hai…kade daga nahi karange (We have eaten ann-jal of Punjab, will never betray you).”
He added, “I listened to all of your problems when I was sitting inside and I am aware of all your apprehensions. We have already conveyed your sentiments to our national president J P Nadda. We had earlier also made your voice reach our national president and will talk to them again. We cannot let our kisan brothers and sisters get angry with us.”
Kalia further said, “I often sit with my kisan brothers, if your trust has been shaken, I assure you that it will be reposed yet again. Punjab is such a land whose farmers have made the country atmanirbhar by feeding them when the country was grappling with hunger. We can never forget this hard work of our farmers and we bow before you for being the food bowl of India.”
Yadwinder Shanty, BJP president of Barnala district, said, “I am glad that you all have allowed us to make our point heard…I am aware that you all must be facing difficulties on a daily basis by coming here and sitting on a dharna. We will not let you face any trouble and I hope that some good news will come soon and we all will celebrate together.”
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