11.00 pm: Farmers refuse the Centre’s invitation to resume talks and say that it is not serious about their demands, PTI reports.

“The government is not serious about our demands and they are writing letters every day,” farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka says. “The new letter is nothing but a propaganda being created by the government against us to give an impression that we are not interested in holding talks.”

10.51 pm: Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala cancels a programme scheduled in Jind district after farmers vandalised the helipad area, Hindustan Times reports.

10.46 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says Friday will be a very important day for the farmers as he will release another instalment of Rs 18,000 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi for them. Modi will also speak to the farmers of several states.

5.59 pm: Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala says the farm laws need many amendments and requests the protesting farmers to give their concrete suggestions for the same, PTI reports.

Chautala again says that he will resign when he feels that he cannot ensure minimum support price to farmers in Haryana.

5.56 pm: NS Tomar also hits out at Rahul Gandhi for opposing the farming bills. “If Rahul Gandhi was so worried, then he could have done something for farmers, when his government was in power,” he says, according to ANI. “Congress’ character has always been anti-farmer.”

He adds: “Whatever Rahul Gandhi says, even Congress doesn’t take it seriously.”

5.52 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says farmers from the Kisaan Mazdoor Sangh, Baghpat, have given him a letter supporting the farm laws, ANI reports. “They’ve told me that government shouldn’t buckle under any pressure to make amendments to [the] farm bills,” he adds.

5.47 pm: BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi hits out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi over the memorandum against the farm laws, ANI reports. “Rahul Gandhi is Wayanad MP,” Trivedi says. “Is there APMC [Agricultural produce market committee] Act in Kerala? If not, then, why don’t you stand with farmers there? How is it possible that something is good for Kerala and not in Delhi?”

5.45 pm: A copy of the memorandum against the farm laws submitted by the Congress to President Ram Nath Kovind.

4.21 pm: Madhya Pradesh Congress MLAs will arrive at the state Assembly on tractors on December 28 to protest against the farm laws and rise in fuel prices, PTI reports. The three-day winter session of the state Assembly will begin on that date.

4.17 pm: A group of 60 farmers from the Kisaan Majdoor Sangh meets Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar at Krishi Bhawan in Delhi, ANI reports.

4.07 pm: The Centre invites farmers for talks again at the date and time of their choice, ANI reports.

2.17 pm: The Delhi Police say they detained about 50-60 Congress workers at 24 Akbar Road area of the Capital, while they were trying to march towards the Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet President Ram Nath Kovind, reports ANI.

2.12 pm: Farmer leaders from Punjab, protesting at Delhi borders, have started travelling to different parts of the country to mobilise support for their ongoing agitation, reports The Indian Express. “Protesting unions now plan to take the agitation to 20 states covering nearly 500 districts by December end,” says the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee.

2pm: All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah says the farmers will intensify their protests on December 26, when they will start picketing in front of business establishments of big corporates, calling for boycott of their products, reports The Times of India. “This is a movement for turning agriculture pro-corporate,” he adds.

1.06 pm: 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.

12.53 pm: Meanwhile, thousands of farmers camping at the Tikri border continue their agitation against the new agricultural laws.

12.51 pm: The All India Mahila Congress tweets a photo of the meeting between Rahul Gandhi and President Ram Nath Kovind, where the Congress leader submitted a memorandum reportedly signed by 2 crore farmers against the new agricultural laws. Senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury were also part of the delegation.

12.41 pm: Rahul Gandhi urges the Centre to convene a joint session of Parliament, reports PTI. “If the prime minister does not take these farm laws back, the country will suffer,” he adds.

12.28 pm: “There is no democracy in India,” Gandhi adds. “It can be in your imagination, but not in reality.”

12.26 pm: Rahul Gandhi accuses the Narendra Modi government of making money for “crony capitalists”. “Whoever will try to stand against him [the prime minister] will be called terrorist – be it farmers, labourers or even Mohan Bhagwat ,” he says.

12.16 pm: Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury meet President Ram Nath Kovind in Rashtrapati Bhavan to discuss the agricultural laws, reports ANI. “I told the president that these farm laws are anti-farmer,” Gandhi says.

12.14: After being detained by the Delhi Police, Priyanka Gandhi hits out at the Centre for ignoring the demands of the farmers. “Only by listening to the demands of the farmers will they solve the problem of the farmers,” she says.

12.04 pm: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi criticises the government for stopping her party from holding a demonstration against the new farm laws. “Any dissent against the government is classified as having elements of terror,” she says.

12.02 pm: The Delhi Police take Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi into custody, while she was trying to participate in a march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to submit a memorandum against the new farm laws to President Ram Nath Kovind, reports ANI.

10.45 am: Congress leader Shashi Tharoor says party members will march to Rashtrapati Bhavan to meet President Ram Nath Kovind and discuss the farm laws, even though the Delhi Police have refused to give permission for the demonstration, reports ANI.

10.34 am: The Haryana Police registers cases against 13 farmers for allegedly blocking Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s convoy and waving black flags at him in Ambala on Tuesday while protesting against the farm laws, reports ANI. “We have registered cases against 13 farmers under various sections of Indian Penal Code and have initiated a probe into the matter,” says Ambala Deputy Superintendent of Police Madan Lal.

10.31 am: New Delhi Additional District Commissioner of Police Deepak Yadav says Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been refused permission to march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan with other party leaders to protest against the farm laws, reports ANI. “However, three leaders who have an appointment at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, will be allowed to go,” Yadav adds.

8.30 am: Meanwhile, farmer leaders from Punjab protesting at Delhi borders have started travelling to different parts of the country to draw support against the farm laws, reports The Indian Express.

Protesting unions have planned to take the agitation to 20 states, covering nearly 500 districts by December end, the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee says.

8.22 am: A five-member TMC MPs’ delegation from West Bengal met farmers at the Singhu border on Wednesday, to show their support against the Centre’s three farm laws, reports The Indian Express.

8.18 am: Farmers’ union Kisan Sena announces that thousands of its members from western Uttar Pradesh will march to Delhi today in support of the Centre’s new agriculture laws, reports PTI.

“We have written to the authorities concerned for permission regarding our march to Delhi but have not got reply,” Kisan Sena convener Thakur Gauri Shankar Singh tells PTI. “In any case, around 20,000 of Kisan Sena supporters will be en route to Delhi to meet Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday.”

8.05 am: Protesting farmers say that they’d accept government’s latest invite for talks if the proposal talks about “legalising” minimum support price system, reports News18.

“There is an attempt to break the protest by holding talks with organisations that have nothing to do with it,” Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav says. “We have received no concrete proposal. Written proposal is a reiterating of verbal proposal on December 5 that we have already rejected. We stick to our demand of complete repeal. There is no assurance, nothing concrete on MSP. That is no legal guarantee offered. If the government sends a draft legalising MSP, we will accept.”

8 am: Tens of thousands of protestors have camped out on the outskirts of New Delhi for 28 days now to protest against the Narendra Modi government’s farm laws.

A quick look at developments from Wednesday:

  • Farmers have carried on their round-the-clock sit-ins despite the cold weather for the last 27 days.
  • Farmers’ unions 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.  
  • Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the Centre was ready to hold talks with the protesting farmers if they suggested a convenient time and date of their choice, adding that they should tell the government what they wanted to “add and subtract” from its proposal related to the contentious agricultural laws.
  • 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.
  • Opposition leaders criticised the BJP government for the continuing farmers’ strike. 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 said the Narendra Modi government was holding talks with farmers with “full sensitivity”.