Sky News Bureau Chandigarh
As the Centre remains locked in standoff with farmers, whose protest against the new farm laws is now in its fourth week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with farmers from six states on Friday. On the occasion, PM Modi will digitally deposit a total of Rs 18,000 crore in the bank accounts of nine crore farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme.
“The farmers will share their experiences with PM-KISAN and also on various other initiatives taken by the government for the welfare of farmers,” the PMO said in a statement. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar will also be present on the occasion.
The PM’s outreach comes even as farmer unions urged the Centre to “abandon its stubbornness” and take the discussion forward with an “open mind and neat intention”. So far, there has not been any headway after five rounds of talks between the government and farmer unions, who have maintained that their demand for repeal of the three farm laws was “non-negotiable”. On Tuesday, Tomar urged the farmers to decide on a date for talks two days after his Ministry invited farm unions for more discussion.
Addressing a press conference, representatives of farmer unions urged the government to create a conducive atmosphere for a fruitful dialogue. “Even the Supreme Court has said that suspend implementation of farm laws. This will lead to a better environment to hold talks,” said Shiv Kumar Kakka, National President, Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh.
Swaraj India’s Yogendra Yadav said the government should not repeat amendments rejected by the farmers but come up with concrete proposals in writing. “Govt is constantly holding talks with so-called farmers’ leaders and organisations who’re not associated with our movement at all. This is an attempt to break our movement. The government is dealing with protesting farmers, the way it deals with its opposition,” he said.
“We urge the govt not to repeat those meaningless amendments which we have rejected but come up with a concrete proposal in writing so that it can be made an agenda, and the process of negotiation can be started as soon as possible,” Yadav said.
Yudhvir Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union said the government’s aim was to tire the farmers out to end their protest. “The way Centre is carrying this process of talks, it’s clear that govt wants to delay this issue and break morale of protesting farmers. The government is taking our issues lightly. I am warning them to take cognizance of this matter and find a solution soon,” he said.
Meanwhile, several farmers marked ‘Kisan Diwas’, the birth anniversary of former prime minister Chaudhary Charan Singh, by paying their tributes at Kisan Ghat while those protesting at Ghazipur border held a “havan”. Farmer unions also urged people to skip a meal on ‘Kisan Diwas’ in support of the ongoing protests.