Saturday, February 27

Protests not affiliated to any party: Farmers’ union to PM Modi, Tomar

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A farmers’ union has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar saying the ongoing protests by farmers are not affiliated to any political party even as the agitation entered Day 24 on Sunday. The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) on Saturday wrote to PM Modi and Tomar and said the government is wrong in assuming that the farmers’ agitation against the three farm laws is being engineered by opposition parties.

The letters in Hindi come a day after the Prime Minister accused opposition parties of misleading farmers over the three farm laws. “The truth is that the farmers’ agitation has forced political parties to change their views and your (PM’s) claim that political parties fuelled it (protest) is wrong. Any demand of any protesting farmer union and group is not affiliated to a political party,” AIKSCC said in its letter to PM Modi, according to news agency ANI. It is one of around 40 unions protesting at several border points of Delhi.

Modi while addressing farmers in Madhya Pradesh had on Friday defended the new farm laws, saying they were in the works for decades and those who are opposing them now are doing so for gaining lost political ground. They had once supported the same reforms, he had said. The opposition parties were against the new laws as they were upset that he would get the credit, Modi said, adding that he did not seek any credit but nobody should mislead farmers.

The farmer’s union, in its open letter to Tomar, alleged discrepancies in the three farm laws and said the agriculture minister was diverting the main issues of farmers from the discussion.

Tomar had Thursday, in his eight-page letter to farmers, accused the Congress and other opposition parties of spreading lies about the new farm laws. The minister had also appealed to the agitating farmers not to fall prey to these “white lies” and said the Centre was ready to address all their concerns. He had also said the PM Modi-led government was committed to their welfare and reiterated that the new laws were aimed at benefitting small and marginal farmers.

Meanwhile, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar met Tomar on Saturday and said a fresh round of talks may happen in the next two to three days. “A solution to this issue (farmers’ protest) should be found through discussion. I have said that this issue should be resolved soon,” Khattar said.

It was the second time that Khattar met Tomar at his residence since the protests broke out over three weeks ago, a state government official told PTI, adding that he had met the Union minister on December 8. Many farmers protesting against the laws are from Haryana.

“In a day or two, there can be a way out for talks. The government is ready for discussion if farmer union leaders come forward beyond yes or no,” Khattar was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his government. “Effort is to find solutions through dialogue,” he said.

Farmers across the country will mark Sunday as ‘Shradhanjali Diwas’ and hold prayer meetings to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the ongoing protests against the three farm laws.