NEW DELHI: Farmers protesting against the agricultural laws on Tuesday they strengthened their position and on Wednesday they launched an appeal to completely block the Chilla border between Delhi and Noida in an attempt to force the BJP-led NDA government to abolish the three agricultural laws. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there is a conspiracy by opposition parties to confuse peasants about the new laws.
Here are the 10 main developments of the day:
1. Strengthening their stance on the laws, the farmers’ leaders have said they will “have” this legislation repealed by the government and have said their struggle has reached a stage where they are “determined” to win it, whatever happens. They said Wednesday they will completely block the Chilla border between Delhi and Noida to put pressure on their demands, adding that the farmers’ unions are not running away from the negotiations, but the government must pay attention to their demands and come up with concrete proposals. During a press conference at the Singhu border, the leader of farmers Jagjeet Singh Dallewal said: “The government is saying that ‘we will not repeal these laws’, we are saying that we will do it for you.”
2. During his visit to Gujarat, Prime Minister Modi said there was a conspiracy underway to confuse farmers about the new agricultural laws and accused the opposition of using farmers’ backs to shoot guns. As the peasants’ protest outside Delhi entered its twentieth day, Modi took a strong step towards agricultural laws enacted in September, describing them as historic and said his government was ready to remove any doubts about the legislation. Without mentioning names, Modi, on a one-day visit to Gujarat, said opposition parties that are supporting the protest when in power were in favor of similar reforms in the agricultural sector. To reinforce his point of view, Modi gave the example of two sectors in Gujarat, his home state, which flourished without government intervention. He said the dairy and fisheries sectors in the state have grown exponentially without much intervention from the state government as the business is run primarily by cooperative sector leaders and farmers.
3. During the visit to Gujarat, Prime Minister Modi interacted with farmers in the Kutch district of Gujarat, including those from Punjab who have settled there, and also members of a local self-help group (SHG). The separate interactions took place on the sidelines of an event where Modi, during a one-day visit to Gujarat, laid the foundations for a number of projects in the border district. The Prime Minister met delegations of Punjab farmers based in the district of Kutch and local farmers and heard their problems with Prime Minister Vijay Rupani who accompanied him. Sikh farmers cultivate the land in the areas near the Indo-Pakistani border.
4. As the stalemate continues between the government and groups of farmers protesting three new agricultural laws, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the Acts were welcomed in various states across the country, but the Center he is willing to continue his talks with “real agricultural unions” to find a solution with an open mind. He also said that the minimum support price (MSP), at which the government undertakes to procure products from farmers, is an administrative decision and “will continue as it is”.
5. The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Kisan) has decided to put an end to its protests for the time being held at the district level in Uttar Pradesh. Members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Kisan) of Uttar Pradesh presented a memorandum to Tomar with suggestions regarding the Farm Acts and the MSP. BKU (Kisan) was not part of nearly 40 groups of peasants who protested on the various borders of the national capital and participated in recent rounds of talks with the center without any breakthroughs. According to a statement from the agriculture ministry, Tomar thanked the BKU (Kisan) leaders for standing up for the laws and said they were welcomed in various states in the country. Leaders of the BKU (Kisan) have suggested that farmers have the option of going to civil courts in case of a dispute. They also suggested that the Panchayat the head should be accorded the same importance as the head of the mandi to safeguard the rights of peasants in small towns and villages. In the case of the Essential Commodities Act, they suggested that it should prevent hoarding and black marketing.
6. Launch a ferocious attack on BJP In response to the farmers’ protest, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal called the saffron party the “real tukde tukde gang”, accusing it of pitting Hindus against Sikhs in Punjab. Asking the former ally to avoid the “arrogant attitude” on agricultural laws and to accept what farmers want, Badal warned the BJP against any attempt to pit Hindus against Sikhs. He said that if one speaks for the central government, he is called “Desh Bhakt” and if he objects, he is branded a “tukde tukde gang”.
7. Senior congressional leader P Chidambaram has called on the government to repeal the laws and present a new bill after reaching an agreement with agitated farmers. “The government should get off its high horse and quickly reach an agreement with the peasants … The simplest way to proceed is to repeal current laws and re-enforce a new law based on the agreement. Repeal and re-enactment is a well-known legislative tool, “Chidambaram said on Twitter.
8. Party head Samajwadi Akhilesh Yadav said that instead of listening to the farmers, the BJP government was “slandering” their protests against the Centre’s new agricultural laws. Yadav claimed that the BJP only deceives people. “If he believed in democratic values, he would not have resorted to barbaric accusations against peaceful protesters. By sending ‘samajwadis’ to prison for supporting farmers, he did illegal and undemocratic work,” he added.
9. The leaders and workers of the Delhi Congress organized a protest near the BJP headquarters in the national capital against the laws. Some of the protesters who tried to cross the barricades in front of the BJP headquarters in DDU Marg were arrested by the police. Leading the protesters, Congress President Dehi Anil Kumar said that if agricultural laws are implemented in their current form, the agricultural sector in the country will be controlled by large companies.
10. The Jaipur-Delhi national highway in Rajasthan’s Alwar district was partially blocked on Tuesday as peasants’ protest against the downtown’s new agricultural laws entered on the third day there. The farmers were led by Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav, CPM lawmaker Balwan Poonia, and former lawmaker Amra Ram. “We don’t know why the police and the Haryana government are stopping us. We don’t ask them anything. This act of the Haryana government is not democratic, “Yadav told reporters.