Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a virtual meet with nine crore farmers on December 25 – former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth anniversary – during which he will clarify the centre’s position on the farm laws, and release the next batch of financial aid – Rs 18,000 crore – from the PM-Kisan scheme.
The meeting will include a conversation with select farmers from six states who “will share their experiences… on initiatives taken by the government for the(ir) welfare”, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said Wednesday evening.
The interaction is part of the centre’s efforts – spanning 100 press conferences and 700 meetings – to combat a nearly month-long protest against the agriculture laws by thousands of irate farmers. The BJP will also distribute an open letter to farmers written by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
“Narendra Tomarji has expressed his feelings by writing a letter to farmer brothers and sisters, trying to have a polite dialogue. I request all the contributors to read it…,” PM Modi tweeted on the letter.
The farmers say the new laws will leave them at the mercy of corporates. The centre insists it only give them the option to sell at markets and prices of their choice. Multiple rounds of talks have failed; the farmers insist the laws be scrapped while the centre will only amend certain sections.
On Tuesday farmers’ unions said a decision on accepting the centre’s invite for fresh talks had been deferred by a day (to today). Addressing reporters at Singhu on the Delhi-Haryana border, Kulwant Singh Sandhu, a farmer leader, said the views of unions from across India would be considered.
Last week Prime Minister Modi defended the laws (again) while addressing farmers in Madhya Pradesh, saying his government and he stood ready “with folded hands” to discuss every issue, as he attacked the opposition (again) for engineering protests for their own political gains.
The farmers, however, feel they have made their position clear – they want the laws repealed. On Sunday they called on people to bang thalis during the PM’s forthcoming Mann ki Baat radio address.