Centre continued its pro-reform campaign on Saturday as well, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterating that the laws brought by his government six months ago have started benefiting farmers without elaborating
Farmers protesting against the three recent agri laws remained steadfast in their demands of repealing the legislations as Delhi recorded its coldest day on Saturday. As the agitation entered the fourth week, the central government continued its campaign to create positive opinion towards the farm laws.
Speaking at an Assocham convention on Saturday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated the claims that the reforms brought by his government six months ago have already started benefiting farmers. Without elaborating much Modi said, “Agriculture reforms initiated six months back have started benefitting farmers.”
Speaking at the #ASSOCHAMFoundationWeek. Watch. https://t.co/faC1nltKrJ
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 19, 2020
He also stressed that the new laws do not end MSP-based procurement and mandis would continue to function. Modi had made similar claims during a virtual address attended by farmers from Madhya Pradesh during a Kisan Sammelan event.
Meanwhile, BJP’s Rajasthan ally and RLP leader Hanuman Beniwal resigned from three parliamentary committees in support of farmers’ agitation while former Union minister and senior BJP leader Birender Singh extended his support to the thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at various border of Delhi for almost four weeks now.
— HANUMAN BENIWAL (@hanumanbeniwal) December 19, 2020
According to a report in Hindustan Times, Beniwal Saturday announced that two lakh farmers will march from Rajasthan to Delhi on 26 December.
The RLP leader said that a meeting of party functionaries, student organisations and party members with regards to the proposed Delhi march will be held on Sunday between 10.15 am and 1.30 pm.
Formal talks between the government and representatives of farmers’ unions have remained deadlocked with protesting peasants refusing to accept anything less than a repeal of the newly enacted laws.
The farmers have been saying these new laws will pave the way for a dismantling of the Minimum Support Price mechanism and the mandi system, leaving them to the “mercy” of big corporates, apprehensions that the government insists are misplaced.
The government has said that the three new laws remove restrictions on marketing farm products and allow cultivators to engage with private companies to sell their crops. This, it says, allows farmers an alternate avenue to sell crops, raising their income, and is aimed at making farming more competitive.
AIKS pens open letter to Tomar, accuses him of making bogus claims
On Saturday, the All India Kisan Sabha penned an open letter to Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, accusing him of making “bogus claims about bumper procurement” by the NDA govt at MSP.
IN the letter, the CPI(M)’s farmers’ organisation also said that Tomar chose to use the letter to “repeat divisive rumours and baseless allegations” rather than “finding solutions to the problems of farmers and making an offer of continuing a democratic dialogue with farmers”.
The AIKS, which is agitating at Ghazipur border, also said “they will block both sides of the road if their negotiation with the local administration over the movement of tractors is not fruitful,” reported Hindustan Times.
Meanwhile, day after Modi reiterated the govt’s commitment to buy produce at MSP, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said that farmers are not getting the remunerative price forcing them to commit suicide.
Maharashtra farmers to join protests at Delhi
A day after the Maharashtra-based All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee extended support to the farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders, reports said that the farmers from the state will travel to Delhi to join the protests. They will first gather at Nasik on 20 December, Newsclick reported.
“From there, they will begin marching on 21 December led by Dr Ajit Nawale, secretary of the Maharashtra unit of All India Kisan Sabha. The farmers will be joined by AIKS national president Ashok Dhawale at the borders of the capital, where the protesting farmers have been camping,” the report added.
“The farmers’ march from Nasik to Mumbai had brought down the arrogance of then Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra. Now, its time for the Modi government. No other government in the history of India has fired tear gases on farmers and drenched them in the middle of winter. But these tricks have failed and farmers are still on the outskirts of Delhi,” the report quoted Dhawale as saying.
Amarinder Singh slams Centre over I-T raids on APMC agents
In Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh accused the Central Government of “trying to intimidate” commission agents known as Arhityas supporting the protesting farmers.
According to NDTV, Singh said that income tax raids were conducted at the premises of several prominent arthityas of Punjab within a span of just four days of issuing notices, without waiting for responses to the notices.
“A total of 14 Arhtiyas across Punjab have received notices from the IT department,” the report said quoting the Chief Minister’s Office as saying.
Senior BJP leader extends support to farmers’ protest
Meanwhile, former Union minister and senior BJP leader Birender Singh extended his support to the ongoing farmers’ agitation. Singh is the grandson of Sir Chhotu Ram, a prominent politician during the pre-independence era who championed the interest of farmers.
Singh, whose son Brijendra is a sitting BJP MP, said it was his moral responsibility to stand with the farmers who he said are “worried” as they fear the new legislations will have an “impact” on their economic condition.
“Whatever I have achieved in politics, would not have been possible had I not been the grandson of Sir Chhotu Ram,” Singh said on Friday. “Therefore, it is my moral responsibility to stand with the farmers in their fight today and, therefore, I have decided to support this (farmers’) fight,” said Singh, a prominent Jat leader in Haryana.
Singh further said that he along with his supporters will soon observe a symbolic hunger strike in Haryana’s districts bordering Delhi. Under the banner of Chaudhary Chhotu Ram Vichar Manch, the former Union minister along with his supporters had sat on a protest at Rohtak on Friday.
BJP ally Hanuman Beniwal resigns from parliamentary committees over farm laws
BJP ally and Rashtriya Loktantrik Party leader Hanuman Beniwal on Saturday resigned from three parliamentary committees in support of farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s agriculture-related laws.
Beniwal submitted his resignation to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
“I had raised various people-centric issues with the committees I was part of in Parliament. It is sad that action has not been taken on the issues. There is no justification for committees in the parliamentary system if action is not taken,” Beniwal said in a statement.
He further said, “As the issues remained unheard and due to the farmers’ agitation, I am tendering my resignation from the committees.”
Beniwal was a member of parliamentary committees on industries; petroleum and natural gas; and petitions. He has been supporting the farmers’ agitation against three farm laws enacted by the Centre.
He had demanded that the laws be withdrawn and asked the Centre to implement recommendations of the Swaminathan commission on farmers.
Traffic affected along Delhi border entry points
The agitation has also led to traffic diversions at various border points causing inconvenience to commuters. Taking to Twitter on Saturday, the Delhi Traffic Police alerted commuters about the closure of certain roads and suggested them to take alternative routes.
It said the Ghazipur border is closed for traffic coming from Noida and Ghaziabad due to the ongoing protest. However, those travelling to Delhi can take alternative routes via Anad Vihar, DND, Apsara and Bhopra borders, it said.
“Tikri, Dhansa Borders are closed for any Traffic Movement. Jhatikara Borders is open only for two wheelers and pedestrian movement,” it said in a tweet.
However, for those travelling to Haryana, the Delhi Traffic Police said some borders are opened — the Jharoda border (only for single carriageway), Daurala, Kapashera, Badusarai, Rajokri NH 8, Bijwasan/Bajghera, Palam Vihar and Dundahera.
The Chilla border between Noida and Delhi is open for traffic but just one carriageway. However, the other carriageway from Noida to Delhi is closed, according to the traffic police.
“Singhu, Auchandi, Piau Maniyari, Sabholi & Mangesh borders are closed. Please take alternate routes via Lampur, Safiabad & Singhu school toll tax borders. Traffic has been diverted from Mukarba & GTK road,” the traffic police said.
“Please avoid Outer Ring Road, GTK road, NH-44,” it tweeted.
With inputs from PTI
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