Farmers’ Protest Highlights: Unions to again meet tomorrow on govt’s fresh talks offer, indicate resumption of dialogue
Farmers' Protest Highlights: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday released Rs 18,000 crore as the next installment of financial benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme in the bank accounts of nine crore farmers.
Farmers at the protest site at Ghazipur border on Thursday. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)
Farmers’ Protest Highlights: The protesting farmer unions Friday met to discuss the government’s latest letter inviting them for talks, with some of them indicating that they may resume their dialogue with the Centre to find a solution to the deadlock over the contentious agri laws, reported PTI. The unions said they will hold another meeting on Saturday where a formal decision on the Centre’s invitation is likely to be taken. An official in the Union ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare also told PTI that the government was expecting the next round of talks to take place in the next two-three days.
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal Friday said the Centre should stop defaming farmers and hold talks with them on ways to repeal its contentious agriculture laws, PTI reported. The SAD president, in a statement, said the central government is exhibiting a “callous and insensitive attitude” towards the suffering of farmers who are braving the severe cold wave conditions at Delhi borders. “It almost seems that the government wants to punish the farmers for raising their voice against the three agricultural marketing laws which were forced through in the last parliamentary session. This is the reason why the centre has adopted a policy which is aimed at tiring out the farmers,” the SAD leader said.
Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interaction with farmers, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said those misguiding farmers will be taught lesson by the public in future. “Those who are misguiding the farmers by becoming their sympathiser will be taught a lesson by the public in future,” ANI reported Tomar as saying.
PM Modi Friday released Rs 18,000 crore as the next installment of financial benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme in the bank accounts of nine crore farmers. The Prime Minister also interacted virtually with farmers from six states, during which he said, “Some parties pushing political agenda by opposing new farm laws. Some people spreading myth and lies that land will be taken away if farmers enter into contract farming.”
Farmers' Protest Highlights: PM Modi interacts with farmers today; Centre writes to farmers again; Congress delegation meets President seeking withdrawal of farm laws; farmers' body moves SC. Follow latest updates here.
Farmers at Ghazipur border in New Delhi, Thursday.
With the push of a button, Modi enabled the transfer of money at an event which the ruling BJP has made into a mega exercise to reach out to farmers by having its leaders interact with the farming community at more than 19,000 venues across the country. Modi released the instalment of Rs 2,000 to every farmer on the birth anniversary of former prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which is every year celebrated as "Good Governance Day" by the ruling party.
Meanwhile, Responding to farmer unions, protesting at Delhi’s borders against the new farm laws, who on Thursday said they are open to talks if a more concrete proposal is made, the government said it is ready for “logical resolution” of all issues raised by the farmers. In a letter to 40 representatives of farmer unions, Vivek Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, urged them to decide the time and date for the next round of talks, and also “give details of other issues on which you want to negotiate”.
So far, there has not been any headway after five rounds of talks between the government and farmer unions, who have maintained that their demand for repeal of the three farm laws was “non-negotiable”.
Also, with pressure mounting on the BJP-JJP government in Haryana over the farmers’ protests, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala Thursday offered to act as a mediator between the farmers and the Centre to resolve the standoff. He said new central farm laws need many amendments and urged protesting farmers to give 'concrete suggestions'.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi led a party delegation to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his intervention for repeal of the three farm laws. A memorandum submitted by the party said an “autocratic Modi government” was refusing to hear the “agony and anguish” of the farmers.
Even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been coordinating with Opposition leaders to hold a joint rally of anti-BJP leaders in Kolkata, the CPM on Thursday worked behind the scenes to get 11 parties, including the NCP, DMK and the Congress, to issue a joint statement against the BJP government on the farm laws
The joint statement issued on Thursday – signed by Congress’s Rahul Gandhi, Pawar, DMK’s T R Baalu, J&K PAGD president Farooq Abdullah, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Forward Bloc’s Debabrata Biswas and RSP’s Manoj Bhattacharya – slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for accusing the opposition parties of lying to farmers about the new farm laws
These are the same 11 parties that had earlier issued a statement supporting the Bharat Bandh called by farmer unions on December 8. As in the past, the AAP was not a signatory to Thursday’s statement. “The Prime Minister’s accusations are a complete travesty of truth… Many of us had opposed these Agri Laws when they were being enacted in Parliament without discussions or proper consideration. MPs who sought a vote were suspended,” the statement said
“Amongst the many unsubstantiated accusations made, one of them is that those who spoke of agrarian reforms in election manifestos earlier but are now opposing. Yes, we are for reforms, but what sort of reforms? Opposition parties seek reforms to strengthen Indian agriculture; enhance the prosperity of our farmers; and ensure continued food security for our people and the country. The present farm laws undermine these very objectives,” the statement said
Slamming the government for accusing the opposition of spreading lies on the MSP, the statement read, “The PM claims implementing the Swaminathan Commission Report in this regard. This Report had recommended an MSP of C2+50 per cent, while this government, at best, implements A2+50 per cent. In fact, this government told the Supreme Court its inability to implement C2+50 per cent MSP. Who is spreading untruths?…
For now, the farmers’ protests in Punjab against the Centre’s three farm laws are bringing together, despite their different and often conflicting interests, sections of big and small farmers, landless agricultural labourers and commission agents. It’s a moment of unity, too, for Punjab’s notoriously fragmented farm unions.
The agitation is rippling outside the farm sector — joining, for instance, the theatre group in Amritsar, to the trader in the city’s famed wholesale cloth market. A play written in the early 1950s is seeing a revival today, says Kewal Dhaliwal, who runs Manch Rangmanch in Amritsar which has been performing at the protest sites.