The farmers have also said that will go ahead with their decision to hold a “tractor parade” in the national capital on Republic Day. This threat comes a day before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter and other issues related to the agitation.
Here are the top developments of the day:
1. BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said farmers are prepared to protest against the centre’s new farm laws “till May 2024”, and termed the ongoing agitation at Delhi borders as an “ideological revolution”. Addressing a press conference in Nagpur, Tikait said they want a legal guarantee on Minimum Support Price (MSP). Responding to the question of how long will the farmers protest, Tikait said, “We are prepared to sit in protest till May 2024… our demand is that the three laws be taken back and the government provide a legal guarantee on the MSP.”
The next Lok Sabha elections in the country will be due around April-May 2024. Dismissing allegations that the protest was being fuelled by “rich farmers”, Tikait said people from villages and various outfits have joined the protest. “This is an ideological revolution of farmers started from Delhi and will not fail. Farmers from villages do not want us to come back until the three farm bills are taken back,” he said.
“The government is adamant on its stance of not withdrawing the bills and this agitation will continue for long,” Tikait added. On National Investigation Agency‘s (NIA) notices to some people supporting the farmers’ protest, he said, “Those who want to be part of the agitation must be ready for court cases, imprisonment and sealing of property.”
2. Farmer unions protesting against the Centre’s agri laws said that they will go ahead with their proposed tractor parade in Delhi on Republic Day. Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border protest site, union leader Yogendra Yadav said, “We will carry out a tractor parade on the Outer Ring Road in Delhi on Republic Day. The parade will be very peaceful. There will be no disruption of the Republic Day parade. The farmers will put up the national flag on their tractors.” The authorities had moved the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26. The matter is pending in court. Another farmer union leader, Darshan Pal Singh, alleged that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is filing cases against those who are part of the protest or supporting it. “All farmer unions condemn this,” Pal said, referring to the NIA summons reportedly issued to a farmer union leader in a case related to the banned Sikhs For Justice outfit.
3. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday the pleas relating to controversial farm laws and the ongoing farmers’ protest at Delhi borders. The apex court may take into account the matter of recusal of a member of the committee set up by it to resolve the impasse. The top court would also hear the plea of the central government, filed through the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26.
4. Ahead of the tenth round of talks scheduled on January 19, agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar again urged the protesting farm leaders to give up their “stubborn” stand on the new farm laws and come for a clause by clause discussion. “Now that the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of these laws, then there is no question of being stubborn,” Tomar told reporters before leaving for his home constituency of Morena in Madhya Pradesh. The government wants farmer leaders to come for clause by clause discussion at the next meeting on January 19. Except for the demand of repealing the laws, the government is ready to consider “seriously and with an open heart” other alternatives, he said. So far, the nine rounds of formal talks between the Centre and 41 farmer unions have failed to yield any concrete results to end the long-running protest at Delhi’s borders as the latter have stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three Acts.
5. Tomar, who left for his constituency by Hazur Sahib Nanded-Amritsar Superfast Express, was seen sharing langar from co-passengers of Sikh community – a gesture which comes amid the ongoing protests by farmers from Punjab against the agri laws. The Supreme Court on January 11 had stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse. Tomar said the government offered certain concessions, but the farmer leaders have not shown flexibility and were constantly demanding a repeal of the laws. He reiterated that the government makes laws for the entire country. Many farmers, experts and other stakeholders have supported the laws.
6. Union Home Minister Amit Shah said doubling farmers income was the biggest priority of the Narendra Modi government and that the three central farm laws would ensure manifold hike in their earnings. Since coming to power, the Modi government had increased the budget for the farm sector and also the MSP for various crops, he said. “I want to say that if there is any big priority of the Narendra Modi government it is to double the farmers income,” he said at an event in Kerakalmatti village in Bagalkote district of Karnataka. Speaking after laying the foundation stone and inauguration of farmer-friendly projects of the MRN group, headed by newly inducted Karnataka minister Murugesh R Nirani, Shah listed out various programmes and initiatives of the central government for the welfare of the farmers. Chief minister BS Yediyurappa-led BJP government in the state too has not left any stone unturned to work for the welfare of farmers, the home minister said.
7. Hundreds of farmers staged a rally in support of the revocation of the new agriculture laws even as police briefly detained the main organiser along with nearly half a dozen of his supporters in Jammu. The tractor rally was led by District Development Council (DDC) member Taranjit Singh Tony who defeated senior BJP leader and former minister Sham Choudhary in the recently held elections, officials said. As the rally started from Bana Singh stadium at Mia Sahib, police blocked the main road and later detained Tony and some of his supporters when they insisted to move towards Satwari along Jammu Airport road as per their programme, the officials said. However, they were later released and the rally ended peacefully.
(With agency inputs)