With the government still to decide on two of their four key demands, farmer unions opposed to the new agriculture laws Saturday threatened to lead a tractor rally into Delhi on January 26 if the demands are not met by then.
The government and farmer unions are scheduled to meet again on January 4 to decide on demands to repeal the three newly enacted farm laws and provision of legal guarantee on the minimum support price for procurement — farmer unions are pressing for the enactment of a central MSP Act, covering 23 crops grown in the country.
At their last meeting on December 30, the Centre agreed to “decriminalise” stubble burning by excluding farmers from the ambit of the ‘Commission for the Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020’, and drop those provisions of the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020, which intend to change the existing mode of subsidy payment to consumers.
The Samyukt Kisan Union, the umbrella body of farmer unions camping at the gates of Delhi to press their demands, told the press Saturday that if all their demands are not met by January 26 – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to be chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year – the farmers shall “peacefully and non-violently” lead a tractor parade into Delhi, and across the country.
The press conference was addressed by Jagjit Singh Dallewal, BKU (Sidhupur) president; Darshanpal, Krantikari Kisan Union president; Balbir Singh Rajewal, BKU (Rajewal) president; Gurnam Singh Chaduni, BKU (Chaduni) president; Ashok Dhawale, national president of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha; Abhimanyu Kohad of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh; and Yogendra Yadav, president of Swaraj India.
“If by January 26, the demands are not met by the government, then farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders shall peacefully and non-violently lead a trolley/tractor parade into Delhi. These marches shall also be held in all state and district capitals,” Darshanpal said.
Balbir Singh Rajewal said: “Our manner (of protest) will be peaceful and non-violent, as we have been, and shall always be so. If police want to use any violent method on us when we enter, they are free to do so.”
A plan of action for the month was also announced. “If talks with the government do not succeed on January 4, farmers will organise a march or parade on the KMP Expressway from Singhu border, and Shahjahanpur protesters shall move towards Delhi,” Darshanpal said.
Tractor/trolley rallies will be held from January 6 to 20 as part of Desh Jagriti Abhiyan to counter “lies that are being spread… on the aims and intention of the farmer movement. We will be busting lies that we are Khalistani, middlemen,” Rajewal said.
On January 13, which is Lohri, copies of the three farms laws shall be burnt as a symbolic protest. To honour women farmers and protesters, January 18 will be celebrated as Mahila Kisan Diwas.
“On January 23, the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, we shall celebrate Azad Kisan Diwas. We will organise protests by farmers outside official residences of Governors in all state capitals – Governors represent the central government in every state,” Darshanpal said.
Chaduni said enactment of a central MSP Act, covering 23 crops grown in the country, is one of the main demands of the farmers. “In the last few decades, farmers have lost 3-4 lakh crore as they have not been paid as per MSP. Setting up MSP, and buying as per MSP, are two vastly different things. We demand a central MSP Act,” he said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines