Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, which is part of the National Democratic Alliance and an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajasthan, on Monday threatened to quit the alliance if the Centre did not withdraw the three new farm laws.

The party’s chief Hanuman Beniwal said in a tweet that the Centre must immediately hold talks with the farmers protesting near Delhi. “Mr Amit Shah, in view of the support for the farmers’ movement across the country, the three farm bills should be immediately withdrawn,” he said. “Implement the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission fully and engage in a quick dialogue with the farmers.”

Beniwal added that he will have to rethink being a constituent of the NDA if the farmers’ demands are not met. “RLP [Rashtriya Loktantrik Party] is a part of the NDA but its power comes from the farmers and soldiers,” he tweeted. “If this matter [farmers’ demands] is not taken up promptly, I will have to rethink being a part of the alliance.”

Beniwal, in a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, also said that the country’s farmers’ protesting in the cold and amid the coronavirus crisis did not reflect well on the government. He added that the farmers should be given a proper place in Delhi for discussions.

The RLP has a huge supporter base among the land-holding Jat community.

Meanwhile, the farmers’ “Dilli chalo [let’s go to Delhi]” protest entered the fifth day on Monday. The Delhi Police set up concrete barriers at Ghazipur and the Delhi-Ghaziabad border as thousands of farmers from neighbouring states continued their protest against the Centre’s three agricultural reform laws.

On Sunday, farmers’ organisations had rejected Shah’s conditional invitation for early talks. They also refused to shift to a government-designated area in Delhi’s Burari area, calling it an “open jail”. The farmers appeared ready for a long sit-in, equipped with food rations that could last for months.

In September, the BJP’s Punjab ally Shiromani Akali Dal had pulled out of the NDA over the three farming laws. SAD leader and Cabinet minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal also quit her central post on September 18.

The farm laws

The farmers are protesting against the three ordinances – Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment & Protection) Assurance and Farm Service Ordinance 2020 and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 – that were passed in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.

Farmers and traders have also alleged that the government wants to discontinue the minimum support price regime in the name of reforms. They fear that the laws will leave them at the mercy of corporate powers. The government has maintained that farm laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

Follow today’s updates on the protests here

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