Farm unions meet today to decide on talks with Centre
As the "Delhi Chalo" protests by farmers against the Center's contentious farm laws near Delhi's borders entered the 31st day, 40 farm unions are meeting today at 2:00 pm to decide on resuming talks with the Centre. The key meeting is being held only a day after PM Narendra Modi's address on Friday during which he interacted with farmers from six states. Here's more.
As the deadlock over the farm laws continues, the farm unions will today decide on holding talks with the government and also discuss their future course of action. To recall, PM Modi on Friday released a Rs. 18,000 crore-worth financial aid under the PM-Kisan cash transfer scheme. He also stressed that farmers' lands will not be taken away and also attacked the opposition.
During his Friday address, PM Modi also accused the opposition of "spreading lies and rumors about farmers' troubles." He also launched an attack on West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee for blocking a central benefit scheme. "Across the country, farmers have been supporting the new agricultural laws. Those with political motives...are firing the gun from the farmers' shoulders," he said.
PM Modi reassured farmers that minimum support price (MSP) will continue for their produce. "My government is ready to talk to them on farmer issues...I urge our farmers to not be misled by anyone," he said. On Friday, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh also urged farmers to let the laws be implemented for about a year, adding they would be amended if they aren't beneficial.
On Thursday, 40 farm union leaders said the Centre isn't serious about their demands. "The government should put repeal of the laws on the agenda for fresh dialogue," senior leader Shiv Kumar Kakka told PTI. On Centre's letter asking protestors to choose a date for talks, Kakka said it was nothing but propaganda "to give the impression that we are not interested in talks."
A number of opposition leaders, including former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, have come to the support of protesting farmers. Gandhi had also met with President Ram Nath Kovind over the farmers' agitation issue earlier on Thursday. Also, Chief Ministers of several states like Punjab's Captain Amarinder Singh, Delhi's Arvind Kejriwal, West Bengal's Banerjee, and Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan raised concerns over the new farm laws.