Dilli Chalo | Farmer unions refute Narendra Modi’s charge of changing demands

Prime Minister accuses Opposition of using farmers; All-India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee says focus still on MSP.

Updated - December 04, 2021 10:32 pm IST

Published - December 25, 2020 11:08 pm IST - New Delhi

Family members of farmers arrive to join their protest at Singhu border in New Delhi on December 25, 2020.

Family members of farmers arrive to join their protest at Singhu border in New Delhi on December 25, 2020.

Refuting Prime Minister Narendra Modi allegation that farmer unions were moving the goal posts everyday, the All-India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee (AIKSCC) on Friday said the only demand of the farmers was an “assured”, “guaranteed” and “legalised” income by announcing Minimum Support Price for all crops.

Earlier in the day, speaking at a programme to release an instalment of ₹18,000 crore to 9 crore beneficiaries of the PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, Mr. Modi said people with a certain political ideology, instigating the farmers agitation , were moving the goal posts everyday to raise new issues not even concerned with the movement and were not allowing discussions for political reasons.

 

Appealing again to the farmers to not get misled, Mr. Modi, said the farmers’ movement began with concerns over the Minimum Support Price, but they were now seeking release of those accused of violence and even opposing the toll plazas. “Those firing from the shoulders of the farmers are raising different issues in their name because they don’t have any logic,” said Mr. Modi.

The Prime Minister, however, reiterated the government’s offer for talks, saying that his government was ready to talk even with their staunch political opponents, but the talks could be held only within the realm of facts, logic and issues.

Single point demand

Responding to Mr. Modi’s address, AIKSCC general-secretary Avik Saha, in a Farmers’ Bulletin, said the Prime Minister should stop confusing people and not obfuscate the movement. “The farmers have only one demand. Give them assured, guaranteed and legalised income. It can be done through announcing MSP for all crops and ensuring that all farmers across the country get it. It must be a legal guarantee,” said Mr. Saha.

 

He said the Prime Minister’s attempt to confuse people would not work and he should stop working for the big corporates. “If there is any change of goalpost, it is from the side of the government. We just want the right to live with dignity for ourselves and a secure future for our children,” he said.

 

‘Opposition inaction’

In a scathing attack on his political opponents, Mr. Modi, in his 50-minute address, said opposition parties shedding tears for the farmers today had done little for them when they were in power.

“Those leading the agitation today, sat on the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report when they were in power,” said Mr. Modi. He added that despite the agitation, farmers rejected those behind the movement in Panchayat elections in Rajasthan, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir. “Through ballot they have supported the new laws,” he remarked.

 

Accusing the West Bengal government of blocking the benefits of the Samman Nidhi Yojana to the farmers of the state for political reasons, Mr. Modi, turned his guns on the Left without naming any specific party, saying those who ruled in West Bengal for three decades and ruined it, never launched an agitation over the denial of Samman Nidhi to the farmers in the State, but they reached Punjab and are raising questions over the farm laws.

Mr. Modi said a lot of lies were being spread about the new laws. Some people were spreading rumours that mandis would close and Minimum Support Price would stop. “But not a single mandi has been shut,” claimed Mr. Modi. Allaying the fears of the farmers on the laws, he said the new laws gave more freedom to the farmers to sell their produce.

He added that these people were talking about APMC, but they were in power in Kerala where there were no mandis . “They have time to mislead the Punjab farmers. But if it is a good system. Why it is not in Kerala?,” asked Mr. Modi.

 

State procurement

Responding to the allegations, Mr. Saha said the Prime Minister had deliberately twisted facts on the issue of APMC in Kerala, because the Kerala government was the highest procurer of farm produce despite the absence of mandis . “The farmers in Kerala are getting more price than the rest of India because of the intervention of the government,” he claimed.

He said thousands of farmers from across the country wanted to join the historic movement at Delhi and if the government wanted to see the real extent of the agitation they should allow the trains to run. “Farmers are not able to reach Delhi because of deliberate non-availability of trains. Please allow trains, we will book full trains and the number will jump by lakhs and lakhs everyday,” he said.

 

He informed that the farmer organisations had decided to organise a “Dhikkar Diwas” (Day to Shame) on December 26 across the country. “We expect it will be done at around 5,000 spots in big numbers by the farmers and the common people. Meanwhile, the sit-in numbers have increase significantly and happening in 200 districts currently. It means that almost one-third of the country is now involved in farmers protest,” said Mr. Saha.

From Maharashtra

Meanwhile, hundreds of peasants from Maharashtra reached Shajahapur in Rajasthan and sat on a dharna at Delhi-Jaipur Highway in the afternoon after the Haryana Police denied them the entry into the State, leading to a complete blockade of the highway. One of the highway’s carriageways was already blocked over a week ago. Besides, there were reports of toll plazas picketed at a few points in Haryana in response to a call from the farmer unions to make toll plazas free in the state on December 25, 26 and 27.

The AIKSCC, in a press statement, claimed that with the arrival of more than 5,000 participants at Ghazipur, the number of protestors there had crossed 12,000.

 

He said that those behind the agitation were fighting for their political survival, but they should not play with the future of the farmers.

On the occasion, the Prime Minister also interacted with farmers from several states across the country, including Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa, to know their experience of the new farms laws and the various schemes launched by his government over the years.

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