The 8th round of talks between the Union Government led by the Hon’ble Agriculture Minister, MP from Gwalior – my friend and the representatives of protesting kisan unions, mainly from Punjab, ended without any outcome on 8th January 2021, Friday, and the next meeting is likely to take place on 15th January, 2021 at the same venue Vigyan Bhawan, in the heart of New Delhi. On this day when farmers are holding the talks with the government, the Congress said that there is no solution except repealing the three farm laws, which help farmers. The Congress also stepped up the offensive against the government by launching an online campaign in support of the farmers’ agitation, with party leader Rahul Gandhi, back from his foreign luxury jaunt to Milan, Italy, accusing the government of betraying the farmers for benefitting their ‘corporate friends.’ I wonder whether Rahul Gandhi had time to read or being briefed on the laws. They will not realise that they had promised to repeal the APMC Act too in their manifesto during the 2019 General elections and Punjab assembly polls. Their ‘Twitter Didi’ also held talks with the farmer leaders. Priyanka Vadra met the party’s MPs and MLAs from Punjab who are sitting in protest at Jantar Mantar demanding repeal of the farm laws.
Unfortunately the discussion between the farmers and the Centre reached an unprecedented stalemate as union leaders decided to observe silence while holding out posters with slogans including ‘Jeetenge ya Marenge’ (We will either win or die) in the meeting hall. The kisan union leaders, however, refused to take a lunch break and stayed put in the meeting room. Such actions by the fake leaders is not positive discussion but arrogant dictations by the leaders who have taken the New Delhi citizens to ransom, whose commissions and cuts have been usurped by the new laws. So called farmers and former cricketer from Canada and UK are also protesting and have put their hats in the ring. One ex cricketer had to delete his twitter post, when the poll did not meet his political desired outcome.
The situation spiraled down to this level of stalemate after Union Agriculture minister reportedly told the farmer leaders that he will not consider repealing the three contentious laws. At the outset, Tomar appealed to agitating unions for discussions on the laws, while farm leaders reiterated their demand that the new Acts must be withdrawn, adding that the agriculture minister stressed on protecting the farmers’ interest of the entire country. “Our ‘ghar wapsi’ (return to home) can happen only if you do ‘law wapsi’ (repeal of laws),” a farmer leader said at the meeting. All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) member Kavitha Kuruganti, who was also present in the meeting, said the government has told unions that it cannot and will not repeal these laws. And the government is absolutely right. It has to protect the interest of other farmers of the different states.
“Ideally, the Centre should not interfere in agriculture matters as various Supreme Court orders have declared farming as a state subject. It seems you (the government) do not want to resolve the issue as talks have been happening for so many days. In that case, please give us a clear answer and we will go. Why to waste everyone’s time,” another farmer leader said at the meeting.
The discussions have been going in the following chronology, but the farmers are changing the goal post during each meeting and they are non-serious for final outcome. Demands are changed, anti nationals are to be freed and all activists and urban naxals like Vara vara rao and others are to released from jails.
The government has always communicated with the farmers and about 32 farmer union leaders met on 3rd January to decide the next course of action – pertaining to further talks with the government. The Union agriculture minister on last Sunday wrote a detailed letter to the leaders and asked them to fix a convenient date for the next round of talks.
On the occasion of Kisan Diwas 2020, which is observed on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Late Chaudhary Charan Singhji, farmers were all set to intensify their protests. Farmers skipped their lunch as a symbolic protest to the three farm laws. The Congress also held a statewide protest across Uttar Pradesh.
The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) and its associate unions said they will observe December 23rd 2020, as “Skip Lunch” day to express solidarity with the farmers.
Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday met a few farmers’ groups from Delhi and Haryana who are supporting the news laws.
Farmers camping at UP Gate on Delhi – Ghaziabad border on Tuesday blocked all 14 lanes of the NH9 for eight hours, thereby causing great hardship to the office goers and obstructing their right of living and right of way to work and back.
From December 25th to 27th December, farmers halted toll tax collection in Haryana. Farmers have also decided to ‘band’ and beat plates during PM Modi’s Mann ki Baat on December 27.
Kerala state government called a special assembly session on Wednesday to discuss and pass a resolution against the farm laws. But Governor Arif Mohammed Khan did not give approval for the session. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said it was “regrettable”.
The protesting farmers are strengthening their presence on social media too. A social media cell of the farmers’ collective has been set up, headed by Majha Kisan Committee vice president Baljeet Singh Sandhu, which will host a webinar on Thursday where senior farmer leaders will address all queries. The zoom webinar will be open for 10,000 people. A newspaper and digital news videos are published, while agitating farmers enjoy DJ, pizza and foot massage and Biryani.
Seeking President Ram Nath Kovind’s intervention for withdrawal of the three farm laws, the Congress said a memorandum signed by two crore farmers would be handed over to him on December 24 by a party delegation, led by Rahul Gandhi, which they did but the memo did not had the name, address or cellphone number of farmers! This was a pappu joke and social media made amazing meme.
Harpreet Singh, a farmer from Punjab, objected to Punjab BJP using his photo on its Facebook page to accompany a post which says Minimum Support Price (MSP) will continue. Harpreet said he is sitting with the protesters at Singhu border and his photo was used without his permission.
The protest did not end at Delhi Border, but extended to Punjab and local miscreants in the guise of farmers destroyed telecom infrastructure of JIO and many political workers protested against the Reliance retail outlets. The total number of telecom tower sites damaged to 1,338. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s appeal to protesting farmers to not damage telecom infrastructure seems to have failed to deter new attacks, with more than 150 signal transmitting sites being vandalised overnight. While firms belonging to billionaires Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani do not procure food grains from farmers, the narrative that new farm laws are to benefit them has made them easy targets, with protesting farmers in different places in Punjab having vandalised and damaged Reliance Jio towers, snapping connectivity. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notices to the Punjab government and the Centre on a plea filed by Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, seeking action against ‘miscreants’ damaging its telecom infrastructure. Damage to towers occurred as truss members were cut, some were burnt, power was disconnected to the telecom equipment and the silent diesel generator sets were rolled using tractors to the nearby gurudwaras. Such acts of anarchy, negativity and damage to the public property was never heard off. This is the new age ‘hafta vasooli.’
Kanwal Sibal (@KanwalSibal) Tweeted: Binary not true. Farmers agit is well planned operation, hardly spontaneous given impressive organisational/financial support. These aren’t poor suicide-driven farmers. To say Modi has magic wand is to mock him. Doubling farmers income is policy goal, not time bound commitment. (https://twitter.com/KanwalSibal/status/1346820279184584704?s=20.
Six national women’s organisations have decided to hold protests across the country on Mahila Kisan Divas on January 18th in solidarity with the farmers. In addition to demanding that the three controversial Farm Laws be rolled back, the organisations will also take up other issues. The six organisations – National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan (PMS), All India Agragami Mahila Samiti (AIAMS) and All India Mahila Sanskritik Sangathan (AIMSS) – will also raise concerns around food security, unemployment, access to health facilities, cash transfers to migrants and women, deepening agrarian distress and the “anti-worker” labour codes. In a joint statement released on Friday, the organisations said that the protests will be in line with the call for Mahila Kisan Divas by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM). Thousands of women are expected to march to Raj Bhavan, Chandigarh and conduct dharnas in state capitals and district headquarters and protest at district and local levels. Some of them are out rightly communist organisations.
The government also suggested to take the matter to the Supreme Court and let it decide. “We will follow whatever direction the SC gives in the matter,” said the agriculture minister. But, the farmers’ unions rejected the proposal to take the matter to the court. “This is a political matter and it will be resolved politically. We will keep fighting, we will not go to any court. We are not accepting any proposal that involves the courts,” All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah, an ex-Communist party MP from Kerala. He further said, “Heated exchanges took place in the meeting. We said we don’t want anything other than repeal of laws. We will continue our fight till the laws are repealed. They asked us to postpone our Republic Day parade in the national capital. We told them our scheduled parade on January 26 (Republic Day) will go on as planned.”
PIL is already filed in the SC. SC has setup next date of hearing on 11th January, 2021 and I have great hunch that as a face saving both for the government and the agitating farmers may agree to form a panel to discuss the issues and both parties work out solution in view of the Covid – 19 crisis and right of way must be restored. Car users are taking long, unwind detours to reach their office and back. The agitating farmers and their communist leader with funny demands want that there is firing at the protest site and AAP party leaders are instigating the farmers and getting installed wi fi spots near the agitating sites, tearing the farm bills on the floor of the Delhi assembly with giggling members and thus insulting the law of the land and thus the Delhi CM joins a select band of defeated leaders in tearing bills as protest continues.
Such antinational acts will not be tolerated by this Government. Let’s be clear.