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Farmers’ protest Day 23: PM Modi says new farm laws long-pending demand; Tomar hopeful of ending impasse before year-end

Training guns at the Opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that people should seek replies from political parties who talked about agricultural reforms in their manifestos.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
December 18, 2020 8:55:28 pm
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As protest by farmers against the contentious farm laws enters Day 23, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday said the new laws were not brought overnight, but were a result of long-held demand of reforms by parties, experts and progressive farmers.

Modi, who was addressing farmers in Madhya Pradesh’s Raisen district via video conferencing at a state-level Kisan Sammelan (farmers’ conference), said, “There were demands for the reforms from parties, experts, progressive farmers for many years. The previous governments had made promises to the farmers but never delivered. They are upset because what they had only talked about, Modi has done that,” he said, adding they don’t have any problem with the reforms but with Modi.

Training guns on the Opposition, he said people should seek replies from political parties who talked about agricultural reforms in their manifestos. He also alleged that the previous governments under the Opposition sat over the Swaminathan committee report for years. “Our government treated farmers as “annadata” and implemented the Swaminathan committee report. We have given 1.5 times more MSP than the cost of production,” Modi said.

“Even after all these government’s efforts if anyone has any doubt over the farm laws, we, with folded hands and heads bowed, are ready for talks,” he added.

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The prime minister also said that a total amount of Rs 16,000 crores are being transferred into the bank accounts of 35 lakh farmers of Madhya Pradesh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address. (Twitter/BJP4MP)

“Today, several farmers have been given a Kisan Credit Card. Earlier, they were not available to all farmers. But we changed rules to make Kisan Credit Card available to all farmers across the country,” Modi added.

The remark by the prime minister comes on a day when nearly a thousand farmers embarked on a foot march from Morena in Madhya Pradesh to join protests at Delhi borders. Several protesting leaders have threatened to step up their agitation and have said they are prepared to celebrate the Republic Day next year with their own tractor rally on Delhi borders.

Informal talks on, hopeful to reach solution before 2020 ends: Tomar

In an interview with PTI, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar– who is leading the negotiations with about 40 farmer unions along with Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash – reiterated on Friday that the three new farm laws are beneficial for farmers and the government is ready to give a written assurance that the minimum support price (MSP) and mandi system will continue.

New Delhi: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar speaks to farmers from Uttarakhand on the Centre’s farm reform laws, in New Delhi, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. (PTI)

“We have constantly been holding discussions with farmers’ unions… Overall, our effort is to reach a solution through dialogue with them. We are still open for talks. We are holding discussions with unions. I hope through dialogue we can move towards reaching a solution,” Tomar said while replying to a query about the stalemate and way forward.

“Informal talks are going on. I am hopeful of some way out,” he added.

On being asked whether the stalemate will end before 2020, Tomar said, “Yes. I have full hope… Everyone has their own agenda. My agenda is ‘Kisan’. Tell me which provision of the farm laws are hurting farmers and convince me. We are ready for discussion”.

Tamil Nadu: DMK, allies on day-long hunger strike in support of farmers

The DMK-led opposition in Tamil Nadu on Friday undertook a day-long hunger strike in support of farmers protesting against the three new farm laws passed by the central government.

Visual from the protest site at Valluvar Kottam in Chennai.

DMK chief and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin, party MP Kanimozhi and leaders of alliance parties participated in the protest in Chennai. Speaking at the protest, Stalin slammed the Centre and the state government for not paying heed to the request of farmers and said that the NDA government has been passing anti-people law.

“Three new agricultural related-laws, four labour codes, electricity amendment bill–all these are anti-people policies. As a way to support corporates, the BJP government has been providing them with various discounts. The entire country is brimming with anger. Farmers have been protesting with their families in cold weather conditions for the past 23 days as they fear the new laws will destroy their livelihood,” Stalin said.

DMK chief and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin.

“Before passing these laws, the Centre should have held talks with the farmers or they should have had a discussion at the parliament and protected the democracy. But the Centre didn’t do anything of these things. What was the need to pass these laws urgently? Whom are they protecting?” he added.

Farmers’ protest hits traffic on Jaipur-Delhi highway for 6th day

The traffic on Jaipur-Delhi national highway remained partially affected for the sixth consecutive day due to the farmers’ agitation near the Rajasthan-Haryana border.

Despite intense cold conditions, the farmers have been staying put in Shahjahapr near the border since Sunday, protesting against the three farm laws introduced by the Centre.

New Delhi: Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) member during a protest against the Center’s new farm laws at Ghazipur Border in New Delhi, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. (PTI)

One side of the highway, from Jaipur to Delhi, is closed whereas the other side, from Delhi to Jaipur, is open for traffic.

All India Kisan Sabha announces support for farm protests

The All India Kisan Sabha on Friday said it would join farmers protesting in Delhi against the new farm laws introduced by the Centre.

The announcement was made in Nashik by AIKS leaders Ajit Nawale and Ashok Dhawale, Centre for Indian Trade Unions’ state president Dr D M Darar and Sunil Malusare among others.

“The three laws are aimed at allowing corporates to make profits at the cost of farmers. To oppose them, we will leave from Nashik on December 21 and take part in the ongoing protests. Thousands of farmers are expected to join us,” said Dhawale.

-Inputs from Janardhan Koushik and PTI

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