Farmers’ unions on Tuesday told the Centre that their sixth meeting on December 30 should focus on repealing the three agricultural laws. The government has so far failed to mollify the protestors who say the reforms threaten their livelihoods and pave the way for corporate exploitation.
Earlier in the day, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar said that the Centre bulldozed the new agriculture laws without consulting the state governments.
Various organisations affiliated to the Left parties, meanwhile, marched to Raj Bhawan in Bihar’s Capital Patna on Tuesday, demanding the scrapping of the agriculture laws.
The Tikri and Singhu borders of Delhi remained shut on Tuesday as thousands of farmers continued to block highways in giant demonstrations against the new agricultural legislations.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at Delhi’s borders for over a month. Worried over farmers’ round-the-clock sit-ins, the Centre on Monday wrote to representatives of 40 farmer unions, urging them to engage with the government with an “open mind and clear conscience”.
Here are the top updates of the day:
10.42 pm: BJP National General Secretary Tarun Chugh alleges that there is a Congress-backed conspiracy in Punjab to break down the communication system and asks the Centre to respond to the developments firmly, reports The Indian Express.
“The Amarinder government is playing havoc with the state and the Centre should immediately take action against it,” says Chugh.
9.45 pm: In response to an Right to Information query filed by NDTV, the government says it does not “hold any record” on whether farmers were consulted about the farm laws.
7.30 pm: Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav says the protesting farmers will bring down the BJP government, PTI reports. He also predicts his party’s victory in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2022.
7.22 pm: The Aam Aadmi Party says it will provide free internet connectivity to the farmers at protest sites.
7.16 pm: Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal meet Home Minister Amit Shah ahead of Centre’s meeting with the farmers on Wednesday, PTI reports.
5.40 pm: Farmer unions accept the Centre’s invitation for talks on Wednesday at 2 pm in Delhi, reports ANI. However, they reiterate that the agenda for the discussion should involve repeal of the farm laws, and mechanism to bring a law for providing legal guarantee on the minimum support price system.
5.16 pm: Nationalist Congress Party chief and former Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar says the Opposition will sit and decide the next course of action if the Centre does not agree to farmers’ demands after their meeting on 30 December, reports PTI.
5.13 pm: Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar says Centre bulldozed the farm laws without consulting the state governments and that matters related to agriculture cannot be handled sitting in Delhi, reports PTI.
2.30 pm: Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar says the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance also wanted to bring similar reforms in the farm sector, as has been introduced through the new laws, but could not do so due to external forces, reports the Hindustan Times.
“Now our Prime Minister is Narendra Modi,” he says. “His only mission is development. His only mission is the well-being of people. Any kind of force or pressure cannot pressurise our Prime Minister.”
1.40 pm: Various organisations affiliated to the Left parties march to Raj Bhawan in Bihar’s Capital Patna on Tuesday, demanding the scrapping of the agriculture laws.
1.08 pm: Bharatiya Kisan Union Spokesperson Rakesh Tikait dismisses allegations of Opposition parties misleading farmers, reports ANI.
“If the Opposition were strong, what was the need for farmers to launch the agitation?” says Tikait.
11.23 am: A farmer in Punjab, who was protesting near Bharatiya Janata Party’s Barnala district President Yadwinder Shanty’s house, died of a heart attack, The Indian Express reports.
11.18 am: The movement of traffic near the Delhi borders remained affected on Tuesday, as thousands of farmers choked highways with large demonstrations against the new laws, reports the Hindustan Times.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) Jasmeet Singh says traffic moving from Delhi to Noida is smooth as usual at Chilla border, but the carriageway leading to the Capital remains blocked. Farmers also continue to block one carriageway on the Delhi-Meerut elevated expressway, while the other one for those exiting Delhi is open, he says. Singhu and Tikri borders, however, were completely blocked.
9.36 am: The Qadirabad village in Haryana called for a complete boycott of all leaders from state’s ruling coalition parties – the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Jannayak Janata Party – to mark their protest against the new agricultural laws, reports NDTV. The villagers said that anyone from the government who tries entering their settlement will be “welcomed with shoes, not garlands”.
A banner was also put up near the entrance of the village that read, “Only those who speak in farmers’ interest will be allowed to enter”.
9.35 am: Farmers demonstrating against the Centre’s new agricultural laws performed yoga on the Delhi-Noida Link Road at the Chilla border, reports PTI. The road remained closed for Noida to Delhi movement but was open for commuters travelling from Delhi to Noida, the police said.
9.32 am: As many as 1,500 mobile towers and telecom gear owned by Reliance Industry’s Jio were vandalised in Punjab allegedly by farmers protesting the new agricultural legislations, amid fear and resentment that the reforms will pave the way for corporate exploitation.
9.28 am: Here are the top updates from Monday:
- Farmers’ unions agreed “in-principle” to hold talks with Centre on December 30, to end the deadlock over the three contentious agriculture laws, after the Union government sent them an invite. The government in a new letter said it is committed to resolve matters with an open mind as the farmers’ round-the-clock sit-ins on the outskirts of New Delhi went on for over a month.
- Social activist Anna Hazare said he will go on a hunger strike in what would be his “last protest”, if his demands on matters concerning farmers are not met by the Union government by the end of January.
- Krantikari Kisan Union President Darshan Pal said that farmers will hold a tractor march from Singhu border on December 30 to protest against the legislations. He also said that toll plazas in Punjab and Haryana remain permanently open. The unions have not yet said if there was a change in plans for the march, following the government’s invitation.