Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday asked the Centre to stop defaming the protesting farmers and discuss ways to repeal the three agricultural laws.
Earlier in the day, Union minister Prakash Javadekar claimed that the income of farmers in Punjab had doubled, but they were protesting against the farm laws because of being misguided.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said farmers across the country “have fully supported and welcomed agricultural reforms”, even as massive demonstrations against the contentious legislations continued for the 30th day. Modi was speaking at an event, where he released Rs 18,000 crore for nine crore farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, or PM-KISAN scheme.
The Centre on Thursday again extended an invitation for talks and reiterated its commitment to a logical solution to all the concerns raised by them. However, farmers alleged that the latest offer of talks was propaganda against them.
Here are the updates of the day:
10.58 pm: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar urges the farmers to discuss their objections to the farm laws with the Centre, ANI reports. “Government is ready to accept change many provisions,” he adds.
8.44 pm: Farmers in Punjab’s Phagwara town picket a hotel where a group of BJP leaders were holding an event, NDTV reports. The event was held to mark former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth anniversary.
8.21 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, amid reports of protestors disrupting power supply to mobile towers in the state, urges the farmers to not cause inconvenience to the public, PTI reports. He says that telecom connectivity is even more important amid the coronavirus crisis.
8.12 pm: Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal says the Centre’s “heartless” approach to the farmers’ crisis is appalling. “Their peaceful protests over the month on Delhi border in the bitter cold has failed to move this insensitive government,” he says. “Are the farmers being punished for raising their voices against repression?”
He urges the government to stop defaming the protestors. “BJP-led NDA govt must not play with farmers’ sentiment by extending talk invitations without any agenda or time frame,” he adds. “The Centre should sincerely speak about ways and means to repeal the three Agri [agriculture] Acts instead of defaming farmers as separatists and victimizing Arhtiyas through IT raids.”
8.06 pm: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat says the farmers are being misled about the new laws by people claiming to be their sympathisers, PTI reports.
8.03 pm: Protesting farmers in Noida beat plates and rang bells during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s online address at noon, according to PTI.
7.56 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed concern for the protesting farmers through a televised address instead of actively working to resolve the crisis, ANI reports. “While he publicly claimed his intention to help farmers of West Bengal through his PM Kisan Yojana, the fact is he’s trying to mislead people with half-truth,” she adds.
5.41 pm: Union Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary says he hopes that the farmers and the Centre achieve a solution to the crisis in their next meeting, ANI reports. He claims that farmers in many states are in favour of the new laws.
5.27 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says the farming laws don’t have a single benefit. “The BJP says that these laws will not harm farmers,” he tweets. “But what will be the benefit? They say that now the farmer will be able to sell the crop anywhere outside the market.”
Kejriwal adds: “But outside the market, the crop is sold for half the price? How did this “benefit” happen? The truth is that there is a lot of harm in these laws and not a single benefit.”
5.18 pm: A group protesting against the farming laws in Uttarakhand runs a tractor over a barricade installed by the police, ANI reports.
3.55 pm: Javadekar claims that every year, the farmers of Punjab have received double the amount of minimum support price they got when the Congress was in power at the Centre. “Their income has already doubled and they are experiencing it,” he adds, according to PTI. “Still, they are agitating as they are being misguided.”
3.53 pm: Union Minister Prakash Javadekar alleges that only some farmers, who are misguided by “their political masters” are protesting against the new laws, but they are “painting a picture as if farmers across the country were with them”, reports PTI.
The union minister challenges Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to have an open debate with him. “Rahul Gandhi has also jumped into this [the protests] and he comes rarely, he appears once in a fortnight... he suddenly said you have to withdraw the laws,” Javadekar says. “I am giving him open challenge for a debate, whether the laws are good, n the interest of the farmers or not. I will challenge Rahul Gandhi and the DMK for a debate.”
3.33 pm: Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav says the ongoing farmers’ agitation is a “living monument of the failures” of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre. “The protest against the farm laws is completing a month today,” Yadav writes on Twitter. “For the benefit of their dear rich friends and corporate sponsors, the BJP is trading a path which is against all – farmers, labourers, middle and lower classes.”
3.30 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Smriti Irani accuses Congress’ Rahul Gandhi of “lying and misleading farmers”, reports PTI. “He is shedding crocodile tears for farmers and misleading them, when his own jija [brother-in-law] has encroached upon the land of farmers,” she says, referring to Priyanka Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra.
3.28 pm: Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury hits back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for alleging the Opposition was misguiding farmers and fooling them with its lies.
3.25 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar once again suggests that farmers protesting against the new agricultural legislations are being misled by the Opposition, reports ANI. “Those who are misguiding the farmers by becoming their sympathiser will be taught a lesson by the public in future,” he warns.
3.21 pm: Sitharaman accuses the Congress of maintaining double standards over the new farm laws. “I want to ask Rahul Gandhi that were these pro-farmer policies not mentioned in the 2019 election manifesto of the Congress?” she says. “They [the Congress] are just protesting because those reforms are being implemented by PM Modi and not them.”
3.19 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says that in his address to the farmers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarified that the government is willing to hold a dialogue with anyone who has inhibitions about the new agricultural laws, reports ANI. “I hope, now, the protesting farmers will speak to the government,” she adds.
3.17 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar says that except for West Bengal, every other state joined the PM-KISAN scheme, reports ANI. “In West Bengal, this scheme will benefit 70 lakh farmers,” he adds. “I have written to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to join it.”
1.37 pm: Modi claims that farmers across the country “have fully supported and welcomed the agricultural reforms”, even as massive demonstrations against the contentious legislations continued for the 30th day. “I thank all the farmers,” Modi adds. “I assure you that we will not let your faith fall.”
1.34 pm: “When we [the government] increased investment and innovation in other [industrial] sectors, we increased income and also established a brand name for Indian products,” Modi says. “Now the time has come for ‘Brand India’ to establish itself in the agricultural markets of the world with equal prestige,” the prime minister adds.
1.32 pm: Under the new laws, the burden of risk lies on private corporations, and not the farmers, Modi adds.
1.31 pm: The prime minister says that under the new farm laws, the government has connected over 1,000 mandis online, “where more than Rs 1 lakh crore of trade has already happened”.
1.24 pm: “Do you want to sell your produce in another state? You can do that,” Modi tells farmers. “Do you want to sell produce together through Farmers Produce Organisations? You can do that. Do you want to be a part of value chain systems of biscuits, chips, jam and other consumer products? You can do that too.”
1.21 pm: “Through these agricultural reforms we have given better options to the farmers,” the prime minister adds. “After these laws you can sell your produce to whoever you want. You can sell produce where you get the right price.”
1.17 pm: Modi alleges that the previous governments brought ruin to the agriculture sector. “Farm reforms became necessary because poor farmers, who are over 80%, were getting poorer during the rule of earlier governments,” he adds.
1.06 pm: Modi accuses the Opposition of misleading the farmers and fooling them.
1.04 pm: “Those who are ignoring the interests of farmers in West Bengal, are coming to Delhi and causing trouble here....just for grabbing big headlines,” the prime minister says in an oblique reference to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
1.02 pm: “Parties that do not speak in the interest of farmers in West Bengal, they come here in Delhi and talk about the farmers’ interests,” Modi adds.
12.59 pm: Modi criticises the Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal for blocking central benefits from reaching the farmers of the state. “Today I regret that more than 70 lakh farmers and siblings of my West Bengal have not been able to get this benefit,” he claims. “More than 23 lakh farmers of Bengal have applied online to take advantage of this scheme. But the state government has stopped the verification process for so long.”
West Bengal will go to polls next year.
12.57 pm: The prime minister says that the PM-KISAN scheme exemplifies good governance. “With the use technology, today, Rs 18,000 crore was directly deposited in the bank accounts of nine crore farmers,” he adds.
12.55 pm: Modi adds that some political parties are “pushing a political agenda” by opposing the new farm laws, reports PTI.
12.54 pm: “Same people who are sitting in support of farmers protest today, are the ones who send farmers to jail in the name of protecting the environment if they happen to hurt wild animals in saving their crop,” the prime minister says.
12.48 pm: Narendra Modi says lies are being spread that under new farm laws, farmers will lose their land.
12.44 pm: A farmer from Madhya Pradesh says he is happy that the new laws allow him to sell his produce to private entities. “Under the new farm laws, we can now sell the farm produce to any private business and organisation, this year, I sold 85 quintal soybean to ITC [India Tobacco Company],” he adds.
12.42 pm: Union home minister Amit Shah claims, “No corporate can snatch away any farmer’s land as long as Narendra Modi is prime minister,” reports PTI. Shah is speaking in Mehrauli area in Delhi.
12.38 pm: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh urges protesting farmers to let the government implement the new agricultural laws “for a year or so,” reports PTI. “If it is not found to be beneficial for farmers, we will be ready for necessary amendments,” he adds.
12.35 pm: Modi says that “some elements are spreading misinformation” that contract farming would mean farmers will lose their lands, while speaking to farmers from Arunachal Pradesh. “Thanks for clarifying that your land would remain intact,” he tells them.
12.24 pm: The prime minister is now asking farmers from different states to explain how various government policies under the PM-KISAN scheme have benefited them.
12.19 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi digitally deposits a total of Rs 18,000 crore in the bank accounts of nine crore farmers under the PM-KISAN scheme.
12.17 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar once again appeals to farmers to end their agitation and hold talks with the government. “I hope they will understand the importance of the new farm laws and the issue will be resolved soon,” he says at an event to release the next installment of financial benefits under the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.
12.13 pm: Protesting farmers halt toll collection on most highways in Haryana, as part of an agitation call given by the Bharatiya Kisan Union, reports PTI. At some places, farmers took over toll plazas not allowing authorities to collect fees from commuters, while at other points, toll employees themselves halted the process in view of the protest. The toll plaza employees allowed vehicles to pass through without paying any charge.
12.08 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi releases the latest installment of financial benefits worth Rs 18,000 crore under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme.
12.03 pm: Shah reiterates that the three agricultural laws are in favour of the farmers, reports ANI. “The government is ready to hold talks with farmers’ unions with an open heart,” he adds.
11.57 am: Union home minister Amit Shah accuses the Opposition of misleading the farmers about the Minimum Support Price regime. “I want to make it clear that the MSP system will remain [in place],” he adds. Shah also calls Narendra Modi a “true-well wisher of farmers”, ahead of the prime minister’s address to farmers of six states as part of an event to release the next installment of financial benefits under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi.
11.41 am: Movement of vehicles along the Chilla and Ghazipur borders is closed for commuters coming from Noida and Ghaziabad, according to an advisory by the Delhi Traffic Police.
11.38 am: The Centre says it is ready to reach a “logical resolution” with the farmers over the new agricultural laws, reports The Indian Express. In a letter to 40 representatives of farmer unions, Vivek Aggarwal, joint secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, urged them to decide the time and date for the next round of talks, and also “give details of other issues on which you want to negotiate”.
8.40 am: Seven US leaders, including Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, have asked US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to take up the farmers’ protest with his Indian counterpart, reports News18.
8.38 am: Thousands of farmers from western Uttar Pradesh gathered in Noida on Thursday to support the Centre’s farm laws, even as others continue their protest against it for over three weeks now.
“While a majority of us were prohibited entry into Delhi by the police, a 21-member delegation of the union went to the national capital and met with Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lok Shakti) convenor Thakur Gauri Shankar Singh tells PTI.
8.33 am: Students from Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Punjab University, Jamia Millia Islamia, and Ambedkar University take part in the farmers protest at Delhi’s borders, reports the Hindustan Times. The students say that they’ve joined the agitation to be part of the “revolutionary movement”.
8.30 am: Amid the continuing standoff between farmers and the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today release Rs 18,000 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi or PM-KISAN scheme. Modi will address nine crore farmers and clarify the Centre’s position on the farm laws, reports NDTV.
For his address, big screens have been set up at every block development centre. Additionally, district-level programmes will be held an hour before Modi’s speech at 12 pm. BJP chief JP Nadda has directed Union ministers, MPs and MLAs to participate in the address, which will coincide with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth anniversary, according to the television channel.
A quick look at developments from Thursday:
- Farmers have carried on their round-the-clock sit-ins despite the cold weather for the last 29 days against the agricultural laws.
- The Centre again reached out to the farmers protesting against the three agricultural laws near Delhi, asking them to set the date and time for the next round of talks to resolve the standoff.
- However, farmers said the government’s latest offer of talks to end the deadlock is a propaganda against them to create an impression that they are not interested in negotiations. They said they were not interested in continuing the dialogue unless the Centre is willing to withdraw the three controversial legislations.
- Congress leader Rahul Gandhi took on the Narendra Modi government, saying that there was no democracy in India and those who spoke against the prime minister were labelled terrorists, anti-nationals or criminals. Gandhi’s comments came after he led a delegation to meet President Ram Nath Kovind to seek his help with withdrawing the three farm laws.
- Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala said that the farm laws need many amendments and requested the protesting farmers to give their concrete suggestions for the same.