Farmers’ unions on Wednesday demanded that the Centre come up with a concrete proposal to resolve the deadlock over the agricultural laws and not repeat “meaningless amendments”. They accused the government of delaying the resolution of the matter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak to farmers from six states on December 25, while releasing the next tranche of funds under the PM-Kisan scheme.
Meanwhile, Opposition leaders on Wednesday criticised the BJP government for the continuing farmers’ strike as the protests at Delhi’s borders – Singhu, Tikri, UP Gate, and Chilla – entered its 28th day. NCP leader Sharad Pawar said it was unfortunate that farmers were protesting for their rights on Kisan Diwas, while Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav said the BJP was insulting farmers. The birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, is being celebrated as Kisan Diwas, or farmers’ day.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, meanwhile, said the government was talking with “full sensitivity” with farmers and hoped that their protests against the three agricultural laws are withdrawn soon. The protesting farmer unions will decide on the Centre’s offer for fresh talks on Wednesday.
The Centre had on December 9 proposed to make amendments related to at least seven matters, and provide a “written assurance” on the continuation of the minimum support price but the farmers rejected it.
Here are the updates of the day:
10.16 pm: Western Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Sumit Thakur says due to the farmers protest in Punjab, movement of several more special trains of Western Railway has been affected and hence, few trains have been diverted, reports ANI.
8.29 pm: Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary says farmers “from Kashmir to Kanyakumari” are in favour of the new agriculture laws but some fof them have “fallen into the trap of the Opposition parties,” reports IANS.
6.43 pm: All India Kisan Sabha leader Hannan Molla says the government wants to exhaust the farmers so that they end their protest, PTI reports.
6.41 pm: Shiv Kumar Kakka also urges the Centre to leave its stubbornness and accept the farmers’ demands, PTI reports.
6.36 pm: Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh President Shiv Kumar Kakka urges the government to create the environment for fruitful talks, ANI reports. “Even the Supreme Court has said that suspend implementation of farm laws,” he adds. “This will lead to a better environment to hold talks.”
6.32 pm: Yogendra Yadav says the government should not repeat the “meaningless” amendments rejected by the farmers and come up with a concrete proposal in writing, so that negotiations between the two sides cam begin soon, ANI reports.
6.27 pm: Bhartiya Kisan Union General Secretary Yudhvir Singh alleges that the Centre wants to delay the matter and break the morale of the protesting farmers, ANI reports. “The government is taking our issues lightly, I’m warning them to take cognisance of this matter and find a solution soon,” he adds.
6.24 pm: Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav says the farmers are ready to hold talks with the Centre, ANI reports. “We’re waiting for govt to take the discussion forward with an open mind and neat intention,” he says while reading the farmers’ letter to the Centre.
4.18 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says the government will ensure farmers get the right price for their produce, reports ANI.
“Even during Covid-19 pandemic, we saw that work related to farming and agriculture was not affected,” he claims.
4.02 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says government is ready for a discussion with farmer unions, reports ANI.
“Whatever they want to add and subtract from government’s proposal, they should tell us,” says Tomar. “I am hopeful of a solution.”
3.55 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak to farmers from six states on December 25, says his office. Modi will also release the next tranche of funds under the PM-Kisan scheme.
1.59 pm: A delegation of Trinamool Congress leaders sent by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee meets the farmers, who are sitting on a relay hunger strike at the Singhu border, reports ANI.
1.56 pm: Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut criticises the Centre, saying the farmers are the “spine of the country”, but the government still chooses to ignore their plight, reports PTI. Without taking any names, Raut alleges that attempts are being made to “weaken cultivators to benefit some industrialists”.
1.53 pm: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan says that his state stands in solidarity with the farmers and urges the Centre to accept their demand to repeal the new agricultural laws, reports ANI. “If food scarcity hits the country, its maximum impact would be on Kerala, a consumer state,” Vijayan adds. “This is why Kerala will also be part of this protest.”
1.50 pm: Congress lawmaker K Suresh says the Kerala governor’s decision to not allow a special session of the state Assembly for discussing the farmer protests was an “undemocratic and anti-constitutional act,” reports ANI. “It is very unfortunate,” he adds.
12.07 pm: Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav says the BJP should stop insulting farmers, who are the country’s pride. “Today, under the BJP’s rule, the country’s history is witnessing such a Farmers’ Day when the farmers are forced to struggle on the streets, instead of celebrating,” Yadav says. “The BJP should stop insulting the farmers because the farmer of the country is the pride of India.”
12.06 pm: Madhya Pradesh leader Narottam Mishra criticises the Congress for supporting the farmers’ protests, ANI reports. He claims that Congress leader Kamal Nath, “who never visited farms of a farmer in 15 months” will now ride a tractor. “Rahul Gandhi, who drove ‘sofa-cum-tractor’ don’t even know if potatoes grow above or below the ground,” he adds.
12.04 pm: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar says it is unfortunate that farmers are now protesting for their rights.
“It is the responsibility of those in power to aptly honour farmer who forms an important part of economy,” the former Union agriculture minister says. “But unfortunately the farmer of the country is now forced to stage protest for his rights and demands. Wishing for justice to the farmer on the occasion of the National Farmers’ Day.”
12.02 pm: The Chilla and Ghazipur borders are closed for traffic from Noida and Ghaziabad to Delhi.
11.58 am: Farmers perform a fire ritual at the Ghazipur border to mark the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh. The day is celebrated as Kisan Diwas, or farmers’ day.
11.05 am: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President MK Stalin criticises Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami as protests continue. “For nearly a month farmers from many states are protesting in Delhi in the freezing cold,” Stalin says, according to ANI. “Till now the PM has not come forward to talk with them and hear their demand. And our CM Edappadi is dancing to the PM’s tune.”
What are the three farm laws?
The Parliament passed 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 – in September. They were signed into laws by President Ram Nath Kovind on September 27.
Taken together, the three legislations loosen regulations on the sale, pricing and storage of agricultural produce. They allow farmers to sell outside mandis notified by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee. They enable contract farming through deals with private sector companies. They take food items like cereals and pulses off the list of essential commodities, lifting stock limits on such produce.
Farmers and traders have 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.
The government claims the new laws would give farmers the freedom to sell in the open market. But farmers say the laws will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, leave farmers to the mercy of market forces and threaten food security.
Most Opposition parties and farmers’ organisations across the country have strongly opposed the bills. The Shiromani Akali Dal, one of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s oldest allies, pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in protest against these bills. Opposition parties have also urged President Ram Nath Kovind to ask the government to accept farmers’ demands.
10.58 am: The Congress is expected to hold a statewide protest in Uttar Pradesh, the Hindustan Times reports.
10.57 am: The Shiromani Akali Dal has asked its members to also observe a fast to express their solidarity with farmers, the Hindustan Times reports.
Several farmers have decided to skip a meal on Wednesday as a form of protest.
10.55 am: Former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh’s birth anniversary is celebrated as Kisan Diwas, or farmers’ day. On Wednesday, several political parties extended their support to the farmers’ protests.
10.50 am: The Defence Minister also remembers former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh on his birth anniversary. “I remember and salute Chaudhary Charan Singhji, former Prime Minister and a pioneer among the most respected farmer leaders of the country, on the occasion of his birth anniversary,” he writes, adding that he had continued to voice farmers’ problems and worked for their welfare.
“Chaudhary Charan Singh wanted that the income of farmers of the country should increase, their crops should get remunerative prices and the honor of farmers should be protected,” Singh says. “Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken inspiration from him, and many steps are being taken in the interest of farmers. They will not let the farmers get hurt in any case.”
10.45 am: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh says he hopes that the protests are withdrawn soon. “Today, on the occasion of Farmers’ Day, I greet all the contributors of the country,” he writes on Twitter. “They have provided the country with food security. Some farmers are agitated about agricultural laws. The government is talking to them with full sensitivity. I hope that they will withdraw their protest soon.”
7.57 am: Protesting farmers say they will write to British leaders and ask them to stop United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is the chief guest for Republic Day celebrations, from travelling to India till their demands are met, reports NDTV.
7.55 am: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will lead a delegation of the party’s Members of Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhavan on December 24 and hand over around two crore signatures against the three farm laws to President Ram Nath Kovind, says Party General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal.
7.30 am: The protesting farmer unions will decide on the Centre’s offer for fresh talks on Wednesday, reports The Hindu. Addressing a press conference, farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu said that 32 unions from Punjab held a meeting and discussed the next course of action.
7.25 am: Here are the top updates from Tuesday
- Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday said he was hopeful that the protesting unions would soon complete their internal discussions and resume talks with the government. “We will be able to find a solution successfully,” he added.
- Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Tuesday declined approval for a special Assembly session, recommended by the Pinarayi Vijayan government to discuss and pass a resolution against the three contentious agricultural laws.
- The Shiv Sena on Tuesday linked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to a gurdwara to the ongoing farmers’ agitation and wondered about the outcome of the protest. The editorial pointed out that farmers from Punjab did not flinch even when Modi reached the gurdwara, “turning his back towards the Sikh peasants protest”, and continued with their demonstration.
- Thousands of farmers on Monday left for Delhi from Nashik in Maharashtra to join the ongoing protests against the three new agricultural laws. They are expected to reach the Capital on December 24 through the Mumbai-Agra national highway.