NEW DELHI: Although protesting farmers had previously announced that they would intensify their agitation against the three December 14 farm laws, they are likely to do so two days earlier, on Saturday, blocking the Delhi-Jaipur highway. This, even as the government said there was no need for farmers to announce a new stir while talks with them continued.
On Wednesday, peasant leaders rejected a government proposal to amend the new agricultural laws and announced that they would intensify their agitation by blocking the Jaipur-Delhi and Delhi-Agra highways by Saturday, and escalating to a national protest on December 14.
All India Secretary General Kisan Sabha Punjab, Major Singh Punawal, said on Friday that the Jaipur-Delhi Expressway will be blocked on December 12.
This comes after the sixth round of talks between the government and agricultural union leaders, which was scheduled for Wednesday morning, was canceled.
Farmer leaders have been adamant in their demand to remove the laws, which they say will lead to the dismantling of the Minimum Price of Livelihood (MSP) mechanism and mandis that ensure profit.
The government has been defending these laws, saying they will benefit farmers in the long run and increase their income.
Meanwhile, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said on Friday that some “antisocial elements” were conspiring to spoil the atmosphere of unrest of peasants under the guise of farmers and called on the protesting farming community to be vigilant against the misuse of your platform.
He also said that the government was sensitive to farmers and is in talks with them and their representatives to resolve their concerns.
“A proposal has also been sent to resolve the farmers’ objection to the farmers union and the government is ready for further discussion,” Tomar tweeted.
Tagging a media report on posters appearing at the Tikri border farmers’ protest site demanding the release of some activists arrested on various charges, Tomar said: “Anti-social elements are conspiring to ruin the atmosphere of the movement peasant under the guise of farmers “.
“I call on the peasant brothers to be vigilant and not provide their platform to such antisocial elements,” he added.
Thousands of farmers have stayed at the Delhi border points – Singhu, Tikri, Ghazipur and Chilla (Delhi-Noida) – for almost two weeks against the Center’s new agricultural laws.
At least five rounds of formal talks have taken place between the central government and representatives of thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, but the stalemate has continued with unions sticking to their main demand for repeal of the three contentious laws and repeatedly rejecting the center’s offer to make some changes to the law and provide written guarantees or clarifications on some issues such as MSP and mandi systems.
The leader of Congress, Rahul Gandhi, attacked the government, claiming that he wants the income of the country’s farmers to be as low as those of Bihar.
The former head of the party cited a media report claiming that a farming household in Punjab earns the highest in a year, while the lowest in Bihar.
“The farmer wants his income to be as much as that of Punjab farmers. The Modi government wants the income of all farmers in the country to be as much as that of Bihar farmers,” Gandhi said in a Hindi tweet.
In a related development, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab will hold separate state-level protests on December 14 to express solidarity with farmers.
Both sides said they stand shoulder to shoulder with protesting farmers and will leave no stone unturned for their voices to be heard.
Punjab Congress Speaker Sunil Jakhar said on Friday that his party will hold a large rally on the Shambu (interstate) border on December 14 in support of farmers.
AAP state unit chairman and Sangrur deputy Bhagwant Mann also announced his party’s unconditional support for protesting farmers’ call to intensify their agitation and escalate to a national protest on December 14.
In a new development, the leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Rakesh Tikait, said that if the government wanted to talk to the farmers’ leaders, that should be conveyed formally as on previous occasions, he said, stating that nothing less than the scrapping of the new agricultural laws.
“They (the government) must first tell us when and where they want to meet with us, as they did in previous formal conversations. If they invite us to speak, we will discuss it with our coordinating committee and then we will make a decision,” Tikait said.
Samajwadi Party Chairman Akhilesh Yadav accused the BJP of taking a “ruthless attitude” towards farmers’ demands and said the global response to their protest has “profoundly” damaged India’s image around the world.
Your party has been backing farmers protest against the three new agricultural laws of the Center.
“The BJP government is ignoring farmers by adopting a ruthless attitude towards the justified demands of the agitators who tremble in the streets. The global response that is coming to this has deeply damaged the democratic image of India around the world. The BJP government should stop exploiting those to feed us, “Yadav said in a tweet.
Party chairman Samajwadi (SP) has called on party workers to organize peaceful sit-ins at the district headquarters on December 14 in support of the farmers’ agitation, according to a party statement.
On the other hand, the BJP has decided to carry out programs at the national level to highlight the benefits of the three agricultural laws. With some farmers’ unions intensifying their protest against the central government over recent agricultural reforms, the BJP has decided to carry out programs at the national level, including ‘chaupal’ in rural areas, to highlight the benefits of three agricultural laws.
Party sources said that events, including press conferences and public programs, will be held in most of the more than 700 districts of the country in this regard.
The development comes amid united support from opposition parties for the farmers’ protest and the attack on Narendra Modi’s government over the issue.
The BJP has accused its rivals of misleading farmers about land reforms and has alleged that opposition parties have incited them out of selfish political interests.