Fresh warning from the farmers to the Center...What's in the new pack of protests?

Amid the failures of the several episodes of talks, the protesting farmers have vowed to strengthen the agitation against the Center if it fails to pay heed to their demand of repealing the three farm bills and their incessant month-long protests had left Delhi to witness the unprecedented New Year. The leaders of the farmer unions' had on Friday threatened that they will intensify the protests, ahead of the next round of talks with the Central government, which has been scheduled on Monday- January 4. 

The farmer unions on Friday had warned that they will shut down all malls and petrol pumps in Haryana if the government fails to meet their demands of abrogating three farm laws in the next round of talks. The protesting farmers had also demanded the government to issue a legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP). Their vow of intensifying the protests had come at a high time when the Center has been unfolding its outreach with Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been appealing to farmers to back off from the protests. 

The farmers' protests had reached 37 straight days as thousands of peasants from several parts of the country mostly from Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi had camped at the national capital and steering their lives and protests amid the testing times of COVID-19 and challenging weather conditions. As the previous rounds of talks had failed after both sides had refused to back off from their stands, the upcoming round of talks has got national importance with expectations on whether the Center loosen the grip on its stand of defending the farm reforms. 

While addressing the press conference on Friday at the Singhu border protest site, the representatives of farmer unions said that only 5% of the issues raised by them have so far been discussed in meetings with the government. According to reports, farmer leader Yudhveer Singh said if the Central government thinks the farmers' protests will end like the Shaheen Bagh way, then it is wrong. Singh said, "The government cannot make us leave this place as they did in Shaheen Bagh". 

The farmer leaders had asserted that they will be pushed to intensify the protests if the government fails to take a decision in their favor in the January 4 meeting. The unions said if the government goes against them in the next round of talks, they will announce the date for shutting down the malls and petrol pumps in Haryana, they will also initiate a tractor march from the protest site to the Kundli Manesar Palwal Expressway on January 6 and they will also call the farmers who are protesting at Shahjahanpur on the Haryana-Rajasthan border to move towards Delhi. 

In what has become new plans of the farmers to strengthen the agitation, the Unions will also organize rallies, dharnas, sit-in protests, and press conferences across the country from January 6 to January 20 to counter the government's campaign that the protest is not Punjab-centric and it has been centered across the nation. The reports say that farmers will hold events and programmes to mark the birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on January 23. 

Though there had been some solutions to resolve the deadlock, the government has not moved an inch towards the two main issues - revoking the farm laws and ensure a legal guarantee for minimum support price (MSP). Last Wednesday, the government and farm unions had reached amicable resolutions to resolve the farmers' concerns over the increase in power tariff and penalties. However, their main demands are yet to be met and all eyes are on the next round of talks.

The last round of talks was held between three Union Ministers and a 41- member representative group of thousands of farmers protesting in the national capital. Following the talks, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said at least 50% resolution has been reached with mutual agreement on two out of four items on the agenda and discussions would continue on the remaining two on January 4 at 2 pm. 

The farmers are demanding the Center to repeal the three controversial farm laws which they fear would dismantle the grounds of Minimum Support Price and the laws would bring in the private players and corporates which would curb the mandi systems. However, the government has defended the farm laws and claimed the laws to be major agriculture reforms that are aimed at helping farmers and would increase their income.