Will the Agriculture Minister try to convince farmers to suspend their protest?

Union government has now been forced, on account of the growing support for farmers, to instruct Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar to invite farmer unions for discussions today

Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar

The lakhs of farmers sitting on a dharna on the outskirts of delhi have already braved through the coldest November in seven decades. The bitter cold was the least of their troubles, as they were also on the receiving end of the state government ordered brutal attack by water cannons, tear gas, and massive barricading. They have also rejected the Government’s conditions of talks only when they moved to Nirankari grounds in Burari.

The union government has now been forced, due to the growing support to farmers to instruct Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar to invite farmer unions for discussions today, Tuesday, December 1. The meeting is reportedly expected to take place at around 3 PM today, or even earlier, as the government is said to have cited the coldwave and prevailing Covid-19 situations in Delhi.

Meanwhile, hundreds of farmers continue to join the protest and many have started arriving at the Delhi border from Punjab and other states to join the protesters. Monday, marked day five of the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest. According to a report in NDTV, the protestors had threatened “to block all five entry points to the national capital”. 

They have already rejected the Centre’s offer to hold talks after they move to the Burari ground, saying “they will not accept any conditional dialogue”. The Delhi Traffic Police on Monday alerted commuters to take alternate routes as Singhu and Tikri borders continued to remain closed. According to NDTV, over 30 farmer groups met to discuss Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s “offer for talks before the scheduled date of December 3 once they move to Burari in the city”, but protesters refused to budge and spent yet another freezing night at the Singhu and Tikri border points. The farmers’ representatives had said that Amit Shah’s “condition that they shift the protest” was  not acceptable and claimed Burari ground is an “open jail”.

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi celebrated ‘dev deepawali’ at Varanasi, his Lok Sabha constituency and was also forced to talk about farmers, as the protest on the Delhi border grows in strength and gains solidarity from across the country and around the world. While the Prime Minister started his address at Ganga ghats with ‘jo bole so nihal… and wished people on the occasion of Gurupurab, Guru Nanak Dev’s birth celebrations, among other salutations, he had no words of assurance for the lakhs of sitting in protest in Delhi, and elsewhere. 

Instead, the Prime Minister told the farmers that the “new agricultural reforms have given farmers new options and new legal protection and at the same time the old system also continues if someone chooses to stay with it.” He added infrastructure like cold storage alongwith modern roads in the villages with a fund of Rs 1 lakh crore rupees has been created and that the farmers have been benefiting from the government’s efforts and modern infrastructure. 

He defended the new farm laws that are at the core of this massive protest and said the criticism seen now “is based on mere apprehensions” adding that “confusion is being spread in society about what has not happened yet, which will never happen” adding that “a very meager MSP purchase used to take place. He accused previous governments of “deceit in the name of schemes” he says were launched in the names of farmers. This “deception” he said has made the farmers “ apprehensive about the promises of governments”, he accused the Opposition of spreading “lies”.

The PM claimed his Government has “delivered on the promise of stopping the black marketing of urea and giving enough urea to the farmers” and has “delivered on the promise of fixing MSP at 1.5 times the cost in line with the recommendation of the Swaminathan Commission. This promise was not only fulfilled on paper, but has reached the bank account of the farmers.” 

Meanwhile the Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday has asked the Centre why it was not listening to farmers and was being adamant on the issue, stated news reports. He said that his government would stand firmly with farmers in their fight against the problematic new laws, “It is the job of the government to listen to its people. If farmers are joining the agitation from so many states, then they must be really upset” quoted NDTV.

He reacted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi claiming that the new laws were “beneficial to farmers,” Singh said PM Modi had been maintaining this since the beginning and it was the reason why Punjab came out with its own bills.



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