Farmers refuse to budge as PM Modi bats for reforms

Farmers refuse to budge as PM Modi bats for reforms

Top BJP leaders held back-to-back brainstorming sessions on ways to deal with the farmers’ agitation, but were in no mood to give in to their demands

Farmers cook 'chapati' at the Singhu border as part of their 'Delhi Chalo' protest against Centre's new farm laws, in New Delhi, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. Credit: PTI Photo

Agitating farmers on Monday rejected Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assertions on the benefits of agriculture sector reforms and declared a “decisive battle” against the new laws.

The move by the farmers’ organisations came even as the Centre launched a campaign to highlight the finer details of the three laws, with Modi assuring the farmers yet again that the minimum support price (MSP) regime would continue and that the government was spending crores of rupees to modernise and strengthen the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs).

Read: Punjab CM asks Modi govt to listen to farmers, terms their fight 'just'

“If the government had to end MSP and shut APMC, why would it invest so much to strengthen these systems,” he asked at a public meeting in Varanasi.

Farmers agitating on the Delhi borders appeared in no mood to buy the Centre’s arguments on the virtues of the law and countered by saying that the prime minister’s defence of the laws in ‘Mann ki Baat’ was an indication enough that the government was completely opposed to resolving the issues raised by them.

“The prime minister is telling us his Mann ki Baat but is not ready to listen to the grievances of farmers,” Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda), told reporters at the Singhu border.

Also read: Have come to Delhi for decisive battle, say farmer leaders; protest against agri laws to continue

“Our demands are non-negotiable… We have come here for a decisive battle (aar paar ki ladai),” Singh said.

The BJP also faced some trouble from ally Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) led by Hanuman Beniwal in Rajasthan, who threatened to quit the NDA if the government failed to repeal the three farm sector laws.

“The RLP is part of the NDA, but it derives its strength from farmers and soldiers. If prompt action is not taken in this matter, keeping the interests of farmers in mind, I will have to rethink being part of the NDA,” Beniwal said.

Read: BJP urges farmers not to have misconceptions about agri laws

Top BJP leaders held back-to-back brainstorming sessions on ways to deal with the farmers’ agitation, but were in no mood to give in to their demands.

BJP President J P Nadda chaired a meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday night. On Monday, Shah deliberated on the issue with Tomar.

“Farmers, beware of falsehood. Farm sector laws have provision for progress,” Tomar said even as the Agriculture Ministry released short films in different languages listing out the details of the reforms.