Updated: December 23, 2020 10:21:12 pm
As the Centre remains locked in a standoff with farmers, whose protest against the new farm laws is now in its fourth week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with farmers from six states on Friday. On the occasion, PM Modi will digitally deposit a total of Rs 18,000 crore in the bank accounts of nine crore farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.
“The farmers will share their experiences with PM-KISAN and also on various other initiatives taken by the government for the welfare of farmers,” the PMO said in a statement. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar will also be present on the occasion.
The PM’s outreach comes even as farmer unions urged the Centre to “abandon its stubbornness” and take the discussion forward with an “open mind and neat intention”. 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”. On Tuesday, Tomar urged the farmers to decide on a date for talks two days after his Ministry invited farm unions for more discussion.
Shun stubbornness, take discussion forward with ‘open mind’: Farmers
Addressing a press conference, representatives of farmer unions urged the government to create a conducive atmosphere for a fruitful dialogue. “Even the Supreme Court has said that suspend implementation of farm laws. This will lead to a better environment to hold talks,” said Shiv Kumar Kakka, National President, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh.
Swaraj India’s Yogendra Yadav said the government should not repeat amendments rejected by the farmers but come up with concrete proposals in writing. “Govt is constantly holding talks with so-called farmers’ leaders and organisations who’re not associated with our movement at all. This is an attempt to break our movement. The government is dealing with protesting farmers, the way it deals with its opposition,” he said.
“We urge the govt not to repeat those meaningless amendments which we have rejected but come up with a concrete proposal in writing so that it can be made an agenda, and the process of negotiation can be started as soon as possible,” Yadav said.
Yudhvir Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union said the government’s aim was to tire the farmers out to end their protest. “The way Centre is carrying this process of talks, it’s clear that govt wants to delay this issue and break morale of protesting farmers. The government is taking our issues lightly. I am warning them to take cognizance of this matter and find a solution soon,” he said.
Meanwhile, several farmers marked ‘Kisan Diwas’, the birth anniversary of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, by paying their tributes at Kisan Ghat while those protesting at Ghazipur border held a “havan”. Farmer unions also urged people to skip a meal on ‘Kisan Diwas’ in support of the ongoing protests.
Govt will continue with more reforms in farm sector, says Tomar
On the other hand, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said the government would continue with reforms in the farm sector even as he reiterated that protesting farmers would soon come forward to resume their dialogue with the Centre.
— Harikishan Sharma (@harikishan1) December 23, 2020
The minister said any agitation could be resolved only through dialogue and urged the protesting unions to fix a date and time for the next round of talks. “I am fully hopeful that our farmer unions will discuss…If they give a date and time, the government is ready for the next round of talks…I am hopeful that we will move towards resolving the issue. The government is ready to listen to farmers’ issues with an open heart,” Tomar told reporters.
Separately, addressing a delegation of the Confederation of NGOs of Rural India (CNRI), Tomar said, “In the last six years, efforts have been made to reform the farm sector to a large extent. There are still many areas left where reforms are due.”
Farmer leader writes letter in blood to PM Modi
Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lok Shakti) chief Sheoraj Singh on Wednesday wrote a letter in blood to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding the repeal of the three new farm laws. “Take back the agriculture bill, make law to ensure guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) and form a kisaan aayog (farmers commission),” he wrote in the brief letter addressed to PM Modi, PTI reported.
BKU (Lok Shakti) spokesperson Shailesh Kumar Giri said the letter has been handed over to the Noida administration, whose officials have assured that it would be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Mamata Banerjee interacts with protesting farmers in Delhi
On a day a five-member delegation of Trinamool Congress MPs visited Singhu border to express solidarity with the protesters, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee spoke with a group of farmers and assured them the support of her party. TMC MPs Derek O’Brien, Satabdi Roy, Prasun Banerjee, Pratima Mondal and Md Nadimul Haque met the farmers in Delhi.
“Please come & join our dharna it will give us more strength” said a farmer on the phone to @MamataOfficial. A 5 member delegation of @AITCofficial MPs visited Singhu border again to express solidarity with protesting farmers. Bengal CM spoke to multiple groups #KisanDiwas
— Derek O’Brien | ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন (@derekobrienmp) December 23, 2020
“Our party supremo spoke to protesting farmers over the phone. Some of them requested her to visit the ‘dharna’ sites. She assured them that the party supports their demand,” PTI quoted a TMC leader as saying.
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