Farmers' protest: Ahead of Bharat Bandh, BJP terms Opposition's support to agitation 'shameless double standard'

Ahead of Tuesday’s Bharat Bandh, protesting farmers at Delhi’s Singhu border have appealed for peace, and clarified that no shops and establishments will be forcibly closed on account of the bandh

FP Staff December 07, 2020 20:04:44 IST
Farmers' protest: Ahead of Bharat Bandh, BJP terms Opposition's support to agitation 'shameless double standard'

The protests against the farm laws entered the 12th day as tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, camped out at the entrance to Delhi, demanding the government should abolish the new legislations. AFP

Ahead of the Bharat Bandh called by farm leaders protesting against the farm laws, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday accused Opposition parties of “politicising” the farm laws, saying the Congress is indulging in “doublespeak”.

The farmers' protest at Singhu border against the Centre's new farm laws has entered its 12th day. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal visited the site to review facilities available for the farmers on Monday. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, meanwhile, was detained in Lucknow after leading a brief sit-in protest against the farm laws.

Agitating farmers have called for the all India strike tomorrow (Tuesday, 8 December), after which farmers unions will meet the Union government for the sixth round of talks on Wednesday (9 December). On Monday, farmers appealed for peace and clarified that no shops and establishments will be forcibly closed on account of the bandh

“There will be complete ‘Bharat bandh’ till 3 pm on Tuesday, but emergency services will be allowed,” said farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal. Rajewal reiterated the farmers’ stand, saying they will not accept anything less than the withdrawal of the three new farm laws by the Centre.

Besides this, the Centre has asked all states and Union Territories to tighten security and ensure that peace and tranquillity is maintained during the general strike tomorrow. As per PTI, in a countrywide advisory, the Union Home Ministry also said the state governments and UT administrations must ensure that the COVID-19 guidelines issued with regard to health and social distancing are strictly followed.

Opposition parties across the country have extended their support to the Bharat Bandh. The Congress, TRS, DMK, AAP, NCP, and TMC among others joined extending support to the strike scheduled to be observed on 8 December. BJP's ally in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party has also supported the farmers' call.

The Centre, which claims the laws would revitalise India’s agrarian economy by boosting productivity, has made several attempts to placate the farmers. But five rounds of talks have failed to break the impasse so far. The agitation continued and another round of negotiations is scheduled for 9 December.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The Centre has repeatedly asserted that these mechanisms will remain

Opposition's support exposes its shameful double standards: BJP

With the Opposition rallying around the farmers' protest against the Narendra Modi government's farm reforms, the BJP on Monday accused its rivals of "shameful double standards" as it claimed that parties like the Congress and the NCP had once supported what are now key provisions of the new laws.

Noting that opposition parties have backed the protesting farmer unions' call for 'Bharat Bandh' on Tuesday, senior BJP leader and Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said they have joined the agitation in a bid to save their existence after being repeatedly rejected by people in different elections across the country.

He said a section of farmers has fallen in the grip of some people with "vested interests" and asserted that the government was working to address their misgivings about the reforms, which have drawn strong protests from different groups of cultivators, especially from Punjab.

He appreciated the protesting farmer unions for not associating their stir with any political parties.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also lashed out at Opposition parties for "politicising" farm bills. At a hurriedly convened press conference at his official residence in Lucknow, the chief minister charged the Congress with indulging in "doublespeak".

"The Opposition parties are betraying the spirit of values, ideologies, and principles in politics by unleashing anarchy in the name of opposing farm bills and extending support to Bharat Bandh call," he said.

Adityanath said Opposition parties that have backed the Bharat Bandh call on Tuesday "should apologise before the nation".

Reforms are needed for development, says PM

Amid the continuing standoff between farmers’ groups and the central government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the laws on Monday, saying that reforms are needed for development.

“Reforms are very much needed for a new order and to give new facilities,” said the prime minister as he launched the Agra metro rail project on Monday, reports PTI. “We cannot build the next century with the laws of the previous century. Some laws that used to be good in the past century have become a burden in the present century. Reforms should be a continuous process.”

Kerala to move Supreme Court against farm laws, say reports

In another recent development, Kerala is set to approach the Supreme Court against the farm laws of the central government, said state minister for agriculture VS Sunil Kumar.

"Kerala will not implement the farm laws. We will approach the Supreme Court this week itself. We are ready to face any action from the Centre for making this move", the minister was quoted by Mathrubhumi as saying.

As per The Hindu, the state's agriculture department has sought urgent intervention by the state government for moving the Supreme Court on the basis of legal advice received from the law department. The department questioned the constitutional validity of the laws on the grounds that they encroached upon the terrain of states since agriculture was a state subject under the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

Akhilesh Yadav detained by UP Police in Lucknow

Earlier today, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav broke security cordon and sat on dharna in heart of Lucknow to express solidarity with farmers protesting farm bills, PTI reported.

As per news agency ANI, Yadav was been detained by the Uttar Pradesh Police during the demonstration.

Yadav, who was reportedly stopped from joining a farmers’ demonstration in Kannauj, said he would walk to the sight of the protest as the police have blocked the party’s vehicles from proceeding, as per ANI. “Our workers have protested at several locations,” he adds. “They can put us in jail if they want.”

Earlier in the morning, the Uttar Pradesh Police had sealed a road near the Samajwadi Party office and placed barricades on it ahead of Akhilesh Yadav's visit to Kannauj for a 'Kisan Yatra', with the party terming the administration's move as "undemocratic".

"Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav was to visit Kannauj for a programme, but the Kannauj district magistrate did not give permission for it. Hence, the portion of the Vikramaditya Marg leading to the SP office has been sealed," PTI quoted Station House Officer (SHO), Gautampalli, Chandrashekhar Singh as saying.

Repealing laws will show govt’s large-heartedness, says Shiv Sena

Shiv Sena, meanwhile, on Monday said if the Union government repeals the agri-marketing laws, it will show its "large-heartedness". An editorial in the party's mouthpiece 'Saamana' blamed the central government for the "deteriorating" situation, and said farmers have the right to protest.

"They are protesting near Delhi with that right. The government, too, has no reason to feel low about withdrawing the farm laws, which they (farmers) find tyrannical. Rather it (withdrawing the laws) will be large-heartedness," it said.

The editorial in 'Saamana' said the current deadlock would have eased a bit had the government "shown the courtesy" of holding parleys over the issue with farmers' leaders like Prakash Singh Badal (of the Shiromani Akali Dal) and (NCP chief) Sharad Pawar during the difficult time.

"Today, the situation is worsening. These are the fruits of the government's deeds," it claimed.

The government has people in it who can win elections or "buy victory", but lacks experts who can combat the challenges faced by farmers or the problem of unemployment, the editorial said.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that the call for 'Bharat Bandh' by farmers is apolitical and people should willingly take part in it

Bar Council of Delhi, Punjab & Haryana back farmers’ call for Bharat Bandh

In another related development, backing the farmer’s call for ‘Bharat Bandh’, the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana requested all the advocates of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, including the advocates at Punjab and Haryana High Court, to abstain from work on Tuesday, as per LiveLaw

As per The Indian Express, the Chairman of Bar Council, Karanjit Singh said that a request letter has also been sent to the Bar Council of India (BCI) Chairman and the chairmen of all the state bar councils across India to support the farmers’ call of Bharat Bandh on 8 December by abstaining from work.

Meanwhile, in a bid to help and support the farmers, the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana decided to send 1,000 blankets and dry ration to the agitating farmers at Sindhu border, according to The Tribune.

On the other hand, the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) has also come out in support of the ongoing farmers' protests, reports LiveLaw. In a press release, the BCD stated that it “fully supports the demand of the farmers” and “urges upon the Government of India to consider the genuine demands of the farmer community”.

The statement further called the Centre's action of going ahead with enacting the Bills without discussion with the farmers as well as the representatives of the Bar “astonishing” and said that the legal fraternity has found the bill “unreasonable, arbitrary and unjust” upon examination.

Kejriwal visits Singhu border, reviews arrangements for protesting farmers

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday morning visited the Singhu border, where thousands of farmers are protesting against the Centre's new farm laws, and reviewed arrangements made for them by the city government.

The visit comes a day after the AAP extended its support to the 'Bharat Bandh' called by protesting farmers on 8 December.

Kejriwal was accompanied by his Cabinet ministers and some party MLAs during the brief visit to the protest venue on the Delhi-Haryana border.

"I checked the arrangements. We received a lot of pressure to allow the use of stadiums as temporary prisons but we did not give permission and I feel this helped the movement. Since then our party MLAs and ministers have been involved in ensuring that farmers do not face any discomfort," he said.

"We are working like 'sewadaar'. Here I have not come as a chief minister but as a 'sewadaar' to serve the farmers. It is our responsibility to support the farmers. I hope soon a solution is reached," he told reporters.

On the bandh called by farmers on Tuesday, the chief minister said, "AAP will participate in the nationwide strike. I hope the whole country joins it peacefully and I appeal to them to join and support the farmers".

"I have come to survey the arrangements. The toilets are clean. Water isn't reaching all points so a motor and a pipeline will be placed," he said

"The farmers said they are happy with the arrangements. Our MLA Jarnail Singh spent the night here in support of them. All our volunteers and party members are involved in serving the farmers," Kejriwal added.

With inputs from agencies

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