Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday visited the Singhu border to meet farmers protesting against the new agriculture laws, and appealed to the Centre to repeal the legislations. This was Kejriwal’s second visit to the border, where thousands are protesting since November.
“The government is saying farmers are being misled,” the chief minister said. “They have little understanding about the farm laws. I have heard all speeches and hence I want to challenge the government to send its most knowledgeable minister or representative to take part in an open debate with the farmers. It will be clear who has a better understanding.”
The chief minister also criticised the Centre’s claim that the protests were being led by “anti-social elements”, saying that the anti-corruption movement, of which he was a part, was also labelled in such a way.
Kejriwal also highlighted that the protesting farmers were braving the biting cold to raise their voice against the new farm laws. “Farmers have been bluffed by all parties for the last 70 years,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times. “I want to tell the Centre with folded hands that these protesters are our people. They are fighting for their cause braving this cold. If they are robbed of their farming, what will they do?”
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accompanied Kejriwal during the visit to the Singhu border. “We are closely watching all the arrangements and we are ensuring that the pain you [farmers] endure is minimum,” he said, according to PTI.
During the Delhi chief minister’s first visit to the Singhu border on December 8, he had inspected his administration’s arrangements for the farmers.
Farm laws protest
The negotiations between farmers’ groups and the Centre has not progressed since the last meeting, scheduled to be held on December 9, was cancelled. Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for 30 straight days against the laws now, withstanding temperatures dropping to two to three degrees Celsius.
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. The law passed in September are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.