Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that there is a deadlock with farmers because some “anti-Modi” elements have joined the protest. In an interview with Hindustan Times’ sister publication Hindustan, he said that there is a delay because of the rumours being spread about the nature of the bills.
“The government has successfully initiated dialogue but the farmers’ union have not been able to reach at a unanimous decision. The news which have emerged in the last two days are astounding. Those who believe in the Left ideology are influencing these protests. Attempts are being made to release traitors. This is condemnable and these elements are stopping the movement from arriving at a verdict. And these elements are not farmers, but those who are against Modi,” he told Hindustan.
The Union minister reiterated the government’s stand and clarified that the laws were implemented for the farmers’ benefit. “The government intends for the farmers to get maximum price for their produce and enable them to buy licenses in the market, eliminating the role of middlemen. This would result in increased competition and more profit for the farmers,” he said.
On being asked why the country’s farmers are protesting against the laws if they were for their benefit, Tomar said it was only the farmers of Punjab and Haryana who were protesting. “The mandi systems in Punjab and Haryana are very strong and decentralised and farmers in these states fear that the laws will alter them. Farmers in other states have welcomed the laws, they even wanted to come to Delhi to show their support but we stopped them in the hope that dialogue will solve the current deadlock,” he said.
Tomar also targeted the Congress party and said it is being ‘hypocritical’. “On December 8, farmers were not on the roads. Workers of Congress were seen supporting the bandh. Congress is practising politics of doublespeak as it had mentioned these laws in its manifesto and had tried to introduce them when in power, but couldn’t do that due to other pressures,” he said.
Meanwhile, farmers have begun their one-day hunger strike at various border points near Delhi. “We want to wake the government up. So, 40 farmer leaders of our United Farmers Front will sit on hunger strike today at all borders points between 8 am-5 pm. Twenty five of them will sit at Singhu border, 10 at Tikri border and five at UP border,” said Harinder Singh Lakhowal, general secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) in Punjab.