The protest by Indian farmers against controversial agricultural laws passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government entered its 29th day, as a stalemate between the government and the farmers continued. Police detained opposition Congress party leader Priyanka Gandhi when she marched towards presidential palace in capital Delhi today.
The Indian government and farmers are at loggerheads over the passage of new legislation to open up the country’s agricultural sector to private investment. The government claims that it would boost farmers’ income besides modernising the farm sector. Farmers, however, say the reforms will put them at the mercy of private corporations.
Indian media reported that Delhi police took Priyanka Gandhi and other Congress leaders into custody. They were marching towards Rashtrapati Bhavan to submit a memorandum containing 20 million signatures to the president, seeking his intervention in the issue.
Priyanka told media, after being stopped by police, that it was a sin to use the words they (BJP leaders and supporters) used for farmers. If the government labelled them anti-nationals, then the government was a sinner, she added. She said they were living in a democracy and they were elected parliamentarians; every citizen has right to meet the president.
“The government is not ready to listen to the farmers camping at borders,” she said.
There is no democracy in India: Rahul Gandhi
“There is no democracy in India. It can be in your imagination, but not in reality,” said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after Delhi police detained party leaders during their march to Rashtrapati Bhavan. He alleged that Prime Minister Modi was minting money for the crony capitalists.
Whoever stands against Modi would be termed terrorist, he claimed. Rahul Gandhi said he wanted to tell the premier that farmers would not go back home until farm laws were repealed. He demanded that the government convene a joint session of Parliament and rescind the laws.
Meanwhile, nearly 100 farm leaders decided to continue protest until the government repealed the controversial farm laws that aim to liberalise the agricultural economy. They also decided not to resume talks until the federal government draws up a new agenda.
In Ambala, Haryana police have registered cases against farmers for allegedly blocking Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s convoy.
VP, Agriculture Minister promote dialogue
Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu urged farmers to resume talks, as any issue could be resolved through dialogue. While talking to a group of farmers on the occasion of Kisan Diwas (farmers’ day) at his residence in Hyderabad, he said that the government has already declared that it was ready to talk to farmers’ organisations.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar urged farmers’ leaders to come for talks. On the other hand, farm unions sent a letter to the agriculture ministry asking the government to come up with “something concrete in writing” instead of “just repeating proposals and amendments.”
The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee has donated 700 water geysers to the farmers.
“We are doing everything to help the farmers in their struggle in view of severe cold weather,” said committee president Manjinder Singh Sirsa.
Geysers were distributed at Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur borders.