Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that he will fast with the farmers on Monday to protest against the Centre’s agricultural laws. He also appealed to the members of his Aam Aadmi Party to join the protest.
Kejriwal made the announcement during an online media briefing. “The farmers have called a hunger strike tomorrow [Monday] and I will also fast with them,” he said. “I know crores of people are with the farmers but they cannot come to the protests. I appeal to them to fast with the farmers and pray for them.”
The Delhi chief minister also hit out at Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and ministers for trying to label the farmers as anti-national. “Farmers’ families, ex-servicemen, lawyers and doctors are supporting the protests,” Kejriwal said. “Are they all anti-national?”
Kejriwal added that the Congress had tried to discredit the anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare in 2011 in a similar way.
Leaders of farmers’ unions, meanwhile, said that the hunger strike will be held from 8 am to 5 pm on Monday, ANI reported. The farmers will also stage protests at all district headquarters.
Rashtriya Kisan Mazdur Mahasangh President Shiv Kumar Kakka said that the farmers were clear about their demand for the withdrawal of the three laws. “All farmer unions participating in this movement are together,” he said.
Rakesh Tikait from the Bharatiya Kisan Union said that the protestors will watch out for any “wrong elements”. He added that the farmers’ leaders will form a committee if the government wanted to hold talks.
Farmers protesting against the Centre’s three agricultural laws on Sunday started a tractor march from Shahjahanpur on the Rajasthan-Haryana border, causing the Delhi-Jaipur highway to shut down. The AAP has been backing the protesting farmers. Earlier this week , the party had alleged that Kejriwal was put under house arrest after he met farmers protesting against the Centre’s agriculture reform laws at the city’s Singhu border. The police had dismissed those claims.
Farm laws a ‘gift’ that farmers don’t want: Yogendra Yadav
Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav on Sunday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was offering the farmers a “gift” that they didn’t want, NDTV reported. He joined the farmers for a rally on the Delhi-Jaipur highway.
Yadav referred to the Centre’s negotiations with the farmers as “strange”. “They [the Centre] are forcing a gift, which is unwanted in the first place,” he told the news channel. “The prime minister says it’s a historic gift, but farmers don’t want it.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for 18 days against the laws. The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.
The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies.
On December 9, the farmers had rejected a written proposal sent by the Centre, detailing the amendments it was willing to make to the three agriculture laws, and threatened to intensify their protests.