Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait on Sunday said that he will hold a meeting with the farmers in Kolkata on March 13, ANI reported. The scheduled meeting comes amid aggressive campaigning by political parties in West Bengal ahead of the Assembly elections.
Tikait said he will ask the farmers if they were facing any difficulties. “We will ask the farmers whether their produce was being bought at minimum support price,” the BKU leader said.
The farmer leader added: “The government has gone to Kolkata. They will return in one-and-a half month. We are also going there. We will meet the government there only.”
On March 2, farmer unions had said that they will send teams to election-bound states to ask people to vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party. Elections to the Assemblies of Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal and Union Territory of Puducherry, will be held from March 27 till April 29.
On Sunday, farmers held a blockade at five points on the 135-km-long Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway, connecting five districts of Haryana, to mark 100 days of their agitation against the agricultural laws.
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Meanwhile, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Saturday again said that the Centre was ready to amend the three farm laws. However, he held that the government’s proposal to amend the laws did not mean there were flaws in the legislations. Tomar had made a similar statement in Rajya Sabha last month.
Tikait, a prominent figure in the agitation, had said last month that the farmers will march to Parliament if the Centre does not repeal the three agricultural laws. “This time 40 lakh tractors will be there instead of four lakh tractors,” he had said.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s border points for nearly three months, seeking the withdrawal of the agricultural laws passed in September. Farmers’ unions have also been organising “mahapanchayats” or farmers’ conclaves to mobilise support for the protest.
The farmers’ protests had largely been peaceful but violence erupted on January 26, when a tractor rally planned to coincide with Republic Day celebrations turned chaotic. More than 100 protestors were arrested in connection with the violence and several went missing.
The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate agricultural. 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 laws are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.