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Farmers may agree to a dialogue

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 24, 2020

Farmers protesting against the Centre at Ghazipur border in New Delhi demanding the repeal of farm reform laws   -  PTI

Congress urges President to intervene, says new laws will undermine agriculture

The pro-dialogue voices among the farmers demanding the repeal of three farm reform laws are getting stronger. Though the farmers’ unions have not approved even the letter sent by the Union Agriculture Ministry on Thursday urging them to discuss the issue, a unanimous view is likely in a day or two.

A top leader of the movement told BusinessLine that no one is against dialogue. “The issue is that the Centre does not have any agenda. But we will have to bring them for discussions. We will collectively take a decision on the new letter soon,” the leader added.

Meanwhile, Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury met PresidentRam Nath Kovind on Thursday and urged him to intervene in the matter. They reiterated their demand that the three contentious farm laws must be withdrawn immediately.

Talking to reporters after meeting the President, Rahul Gandhi said“These are labourers, they are farmers, they are small traders, these are the people and they are the backbone of the country. Now, we understand that agriculture has to be reformed. What, we are saying is that if you destroy the system, these millions of people will have nothing to do. They will not be able to feed themselves and you will create massive destruction, massive pain in the country,” he said.

‘Livelihood at stake’

“He does not care what happens to farmers and common men. He will construct whatever narrative, he has to construct. To make sure that the wealth transfer that is taking place to three or four people continues. He will call people terrorists, he will call people anti-nationals, he will call people criminals, he will do whatever he has to do, to transfer the wealth from farmers, the backbone of this country to those people, three or four of them, five of them, that is the crux and we are fighting this. We are saying that in India, where you have destroyed the agricultural system, will not function,” he said. The Congress also protested the arrest of AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other senior leaders who were on their way to meet the President.

Strengthen agriculture

A joint statement of 11 Opposition parties registered strong protest against Modi’s allegations that the opposition parties are “repeatedly lying” to the farmers about the new farm laws and “using them for their politics. “The Prime Minister’s accusations are a complete travesty of truth,” it said.

“The call for this ongoing historic struggle was given by more than 500 kisan organisations from all over the country under the banner of Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM). Many of us had opposed these laws when they were being enacted in the Parliament, without discussions, or, a proper consideration. MPs who sought a vote were suspended. Amongst the many unsubstantiated accusations made, one of them is that those who spoke of agrarian reforms in election manifestos earlier are now opposing. Yes, we are for reforms, but what sort of reforms? Opposition parties seek reforms to strengthen Indian agriculture; enhance the prosperity of our farmers; and ensure continued food security for our people and the country. The present farm laws undermine these very objectives,” it added.

Published on December 24, 2020

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