With the impasse over the controversial farm laws continuing even after 20 days, farmer leaders Tuesday stated that they were not running away from negotiations and that the central government should instead come forward with concrete proposals.
Hardening their stance on the issue, farmer leaders announced a complete blockade of the Chilla border, between Delhi and Noida, on Wednesday to press for their demands.
“The government is saying ‘we won’t repeal these laws’, we are saying we will make you do it. The fight has reached a stage where we are determined to win no matter what,” farmer leader Jagjeet Dallewal said during a press conference at Singhu border in New Delhi.
The decision of protesting farmers to intensify their agitation comes on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that farmers gathered near Delhi were being misled as part of a conspiracy.
During a function in Dhordo after performing virtual stone laying ceremonies for three projects in Kutch district, PM Modi said, “I am confident that progressive farmers will defeat those who are doing politics, spreading falsehood and using farmers’ shoulders to fire their guns.”
“A sense of fear is being injected into their minds. Farmers are told that their land will be grabbed by others if the new farm laws get implemented,” he said. “Demand for farm sector reforms which we brought recently was very old. Many farmer bodies have demanded since long that farmers should be given freedom to sell their produce anywhere they want.”
“Those in opposition were in favour of these reforms when they were in power” he continued.
“But, they failed to take any decision when in power. They only gave hollow promises to farmers. Now, when the country has taken this historic step, these very people are spreading falsehood. I want to reiterate that my government is ready 24 hours to resolve all your doubts,” said Modi.
The previous five rounds of talks have remained inconclusive. The last scheduled round, on December 9, was cancelled after a meeting between Shah and representatives of farm unions.
The Centre then extended a new set of proposals to resolve the crisis, including a written assurance on continuation of minimum support price (MSP)-based procurement and parity in transactions inside and outside Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) mandis. But the farm leaders rejected these proposals and said that they would escalate their protests until the laws were repealed.
‘One farmer has died everyday’
Leaders of the farmers’ protest also called upon people to pay tributes on December 20 to those farmers who have lost their lives during the ongoing protests. Farmer leader Rishipal claimed that one farmer has died every day on an average since the protest started in the last week of November.
“A Homage Day (Shraddhanjali Diwas) for all the farmers who lost their lives and became martyrs in the ongoing protest will be organised across the country in villages and tehsil headquarters on 20th December from 11 am to 1 pm,” one of the farm leaders said during the press conference.
Tomar meets farmers, claims support over new laws
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday claimed that the new farm laws have been welcomed in various states across the country but the Centre is willing to continue its talks with “genuine farm unions” to find a solution with an open mind.
His comments came after a meeting with members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Kisan) from Uttar Pradesh, who submitted a memorandum to the minister with suggestions regarding the Farm Acts and the MSP. “The farmers who met me today have supported the three farm laws. They said that they are with the bills an govt. As some farmers are spreading misconception so they were also misled. When I spoke to them they clearly supported the bills,” Tomar told media after the meeting.
According to PTI, the BKU (Kisan) has also decided to end for now its protest, which it was holding at district levels in Uttar Pradesh. The farmer’s body has not been part of nearly 40 farmers’ groups that have been protesting on various borders of the national capital and had attended the recent rounds of talks with the Centre without any breakthrough.
In the meeting with Tomar, BKU (Kisan) leaders suggested that farmers be given the option of going to civil courts in case of a dispute. “They also suggested that the Panchayat head should be accorded the same importance as the head of the mandi to safeguard the rights of the farmers in small towns and villages. In case of the Essential Commodities Act, they suggested that it should prevent hoarding and black marketing,” a press release issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said.
On the other hand, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal has called former ally BJP as the real ‘tukde tukde gang’ which is trying to push patriotic Punjab into communal flames.
“BJP is the real ‘Tukde Tukde Gang’ in the country. It has smashed national unity to pieces, shamelessly inciting Hindus against Muslims & now desperate setting peace-loving Punjabi Hindus against their Sikh brethren especially farmers. They’re pushing patriotic Punjab into communal flames,” he said.
The SAD had quit the National Democratic Alliance over the issue of farm laws. SAD leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal had also resigned as Union minister.
‘Government should climb down from its high horse’
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Tuesday asked the government to repeal the farm laws and bring in a fresh bill after reaching an agreement with the agitating farmers. “Government should climb down from its high horse and reach an agreement with the farmers quickly,” Chidambaram said in a tweet.
It is shocking that after 20 days of farmers’ protests in the bitter winter of Delhi, the government continues to stick to the ‘no repeal’ stand
It is obvious that any agreement between farmers and government will necessarily require a new Bill to be passed in Parliament
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) December 15, 2020
“The simple way forward is to Repeal the present laws and Re-enact a new law based on the agreement. Repeal and Re-enactment is a well-known legislative tool,” he added.
-Inputs from PTI
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines