PM Modi to address farmers on 25 Dec; Centre should come with 'open mind' for talks, say protesters

Farmers’ unions on Wednesday demanded that the Centre come up with a concrete proposal in writing to resolve the deadlock over the agricultural laws and not repeal “meaningless amendments” that they have already rejected

FP Staff December 24, 2020 02:25:47 IST
PM Modi to address farmers on 25 Dec; Centre should come with 'open mind' for talks, say protesters

Farmers sit in protest against Centre's farm laws in Amritsar. PTI

Farmers’ unions on Wednesday demanded that the Centre come up with a concrete proposal in writing to resolve the deadlock over the agricultural laws and not repeal “meaningless amendments” that they have already rejected.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with farmers from six states on Friday (25 December). On the occasion, Modi will digitally deposit a total of Rs 18,000 crore in the bank accounts of nine crore farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.

Opposition leaders on Wednesday criticised the BJP government for the continuing farmers’ strike as the protests at Delhi’s borders, Singhu, Tikri, UP Gate, and Chilla, entered day 28. NCP leader Sharad Pawar said it was unfortunate that farmers were protesting for their rights on Kisan Diwas, while Samajwadi Party’s Akhilesh Yadav said the BJP was insulting farmers.

The birth anniversary of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh is being celebrated as Kisan Diwas, or farmers’ day.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh said the government was talking with “full sensitivity” with farmers and hoped that their protests against the three agricultural laws are withdrawn soon.

The Centre had on 9 December proposed to make amendments related to at least seven matters and provide a “written assurance” on the continuation of the minimum support price but the farmers rejected it.

So far, there has not been any headway after five rounds of talks between the government and farmer unions, who have maintained that their demand for the repeal of the three farm laws was “non-negotiable”.

'Ready for talks' 

Farmers protesting the Centre's new agricultural reforms on Wednesday said they are ready to hold talks, but are waiting for the government to hold discussions with an open mind and present concrete proposals that are acceptable.

Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border, a farmer leader said they were ready for talks, but the government should send a concrete proposal for that to happen.

"We have already told home minister Amit Shah that protesting farmers will not accept amendments," farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said.

"Farmer unions are ready to talk to the government and are waiting for the government to come to the table with an open mind," said Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav.

Yadav said that the farmers are ready to hold talks with the Centre. “We’re waiting for govt to take the discussion forward with an open mind and neat intention,” he says while reading the farmers’ letter to the Centre.

He also said that the government should not repeat the “meaningless” amendments rejected by the farmers and come up with a concrete proposal in writing so that negotiations between the two sides cam begin soon.

All India Kisan Sabha leader Hannan Molla claimed the government wanted to tire the farmers out so that the protest would end.

Bhartiya Kisan Union general secretary Yudhvir Singh accused the Centre of wanting to delay the matter and break the morale of the protesting farmers. “The government is taking our issues lightly, I’m warning them to take cognisance of this matter and find a solution soon,” he added.

Shiv Kumar Kakka also urged the Centre to leave its stubbornness and accept the farmers’ demands, PTI reported.

Meanwhile, several farmers marked ‘Kisan Diwas’, the birth anniversary of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, by paying their tributes at Kisan Ghat while those protesting at Ghazipur border held a “havan”.

Farmer unions also urged people to skip a meal on ‘Kisan Diwas’ in support of the ongoing protests.

'Hopeful of protesting unions resuming dialogue'

Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said the government will continue with reforms in the farm sector as they are still due in many areas as he reiterated his hope that protesting farmers will soon come forward to resume their dialogue with the Centre to resolve their concerns over three new laws.

The minister said any agitation can be resolved only through dialogue as has been the case always in history and urged the protesting unions to fix a date and time for the next round of talks.

Separately, addressing a delegation of the Confederation of NGOs of Rural India (CNRI), Tomar said, “In the last six years, efforts have been made to reform the farm sector to a large extent. There are still many areas left where reforms are due.”

"I am fully hopeful that our farmer unions will discuss... If they give a date and time, the government is ready for the next round of talks... I am hopeful that we will move towards resolving the issue," Tomar told reporters.

The government has already sent a draft proposal to unions offering at least seven amendments to the three legislations that were enacted in September.

Mamata interacts with protesting farmers in Delhi

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee spoke to farmers protesting in Delhi against the Centre's new agriculture laws and assured them that her party stands by them, a TMC leader told PTI on Wednesday.

A five-member delegation of TMC MPs, comprising Derek O'Brien, Satabdi Roy, Prasun Banerjee, Pratima Mondal and Md Nadimul Haque, also met the farmers there to support their protest against the new farm laws.

"Our party supremo spoke to protesting farmers over the phone. Some of them requested her to visit the 'dharna' sites. She assured them that the party supports their demand," a TMC leader said.

"Please come and join our dharna it will give us more strength, said a farmer on the phone to Mamata Banerjee. A 5 member delegation of All India Trinamool Congress MPs visited Singhu border again to express solidarity with protesting farmers. Bengal CM spoke to multiple groups," O'Brien said on Twitter.

Earlier this month, the ruling party in West Bengal had sent a delegation there and Banerjee also interacted with the agitating farmers.

PM to release PM-KISAN instalment on 25 Dec

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will release the next instalment of the financial benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) on 25 December via video-conferencing, his office said on Wednesday.

With the push of a button, Modi will enable the transfer of more than Rs 18,000 crore to over nine crore beneficiary farmer families, it added.

Modi will also interact with farmers from six states during the event, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

"The farmers will share their experiences with PM-KISAN and also on various other initiatives taken by the government for the welfare of farmers," it said.

Under the PM-KISAN scheme, a financial benefit of Rs 6,000 per year is provided to small and marginal farmers, payable in three equal instalments of Rs 2,000 each. The fund is transferred directly to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.

The programme comes amid protests by various farmer unions against three farm laws recently enacted by the Modi government. The government has insisted that these reforms are in the interest of farmers.

With inputs from PTI

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