Government should frame a new legislation to assure the continuation of the minimum support price
New Delhi: As thousands of people rallied behind the farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders, a kisan mahapanchayat in Haryana’s Charkhi Dadri, attended by Uttar Pradesh BKU leader Rakesh Tikait, on Sunday passed a resolution seeking repeal of the three agricultural reform laws, a legal guarantee on MSP, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission recommendations for profitable crop prices, waiver of farm loans and the release of those arrested after the Republic Day violence in Delhi.
Asserting the agitation against the farm laws was a people’s movement that will not fail, Tikait said there will be no “ghar wapsi” till the farmers’ demands are met. He lauded the role of the “khap panchayats” (caste councils) and their leaders in supporting the farmers’ stir.
Tikait said two government representatives had come to meet him on Saturday, but he refused to meet them separately. “Every discussion will be held collectively in the presence of the Kisan Samyukth Morcha (an umbrella body of the protesting farmers’ unions).”
In Madhya Pradesh, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar claimed the ongoing protests were limited to a certain area and hoped that the deadlock would end soon. “The farmers’ agitation is limited to a certain area. The government is ready for talks with the farmers, and I hope we will be able to break the deadlock very soon.”
Railway minister Piyush Goyal said in New Delhi the Centre was ready to resume talks with the farmers’ unions if they (farmers) have some new proposals. He said the Narendra Modi government was sensitive towards the farmers’ concerns and was ready to resolve the issue via dialogue. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the government is a phone call away, but someone has to call to talk or move ahead. If the farmers have any objection to the laws, let us know, and the government is willing to address it.”
As the protests against the new laws entered Day 74, a farmer from Jind who was supporting the agitation allegedly hanged himself from a tree just 2 km from the Tikri border protest site. A handwritten suicide note purportedly left behind by the 52-year-old deceased said: “Dear farmer brethren, Modi government is giving date after date... No one knows when these black farm laws will be rolled back.”
At Charkhi Dadri, Tikait claimed the campaign against the three laws was going strong. Independent Dadri MLA Sombir Sangwan, chief of the Sangwan khap, who in December withdrew his support to the BJP-JJP government in Haryana, dubbing it “anti-farmer”, was present. The mahapanchayat was attended by representatives of over 50 khaps.
Earlier, on February 3, Tikait addressed his first mahapanchayat in Haryana’s Kandela village. The BKU leader from UP has been camping at Ghazipur as part of a campaign by the farmers’ unions against the laws enacted by the Centre in September.
Tikait said the “khaps” go back to the days of King Harshvardhana and have played a role in society ever since. He said when the farmers’ stir began, attempts were made to divide it by calling it the agitation of Punjab and Haryana.
Seeking to project unity among the farmers’ unions, Tikait said the “manch (stage) and panch (leaders leading the stir) will not change”. The BKU leader, whose emotional appeal had recently revived the protest that was losing momentum after the January 26 violence in Delhi, said people from different sections of society were part of the stir.
Warning the protesting farmers, Tikait said: “Some people will try to divide you as Sikh, non-Sikh”, but they should remain united. He praised Punjab BKU leader Balbir Singh Rajewal, who was present, for providing sound leadership. “Rajewal is our big leader, he is very wise. We will fight this battle strongly.”
Tikait mentioned the tragedy caused by a glacier burst at Joshimath in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, leading to a massive flood in the Dhauli Ganga river and causing large-scale devastation in the upper reaches of the ecologically fragile Himalayas. “A big tragedy has struck Uttarakhand. I appeal to the BKU family and other farmer organisations to lend a helping hand and assist the local administration.”