Farmers bang utensils to boycott PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’

Farmers bang utensils to boycott PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’
Farmers beat utensils as a protest against PM''s Mann ki Baat programme on Sunday. (PTI)
NEW DELHI, DEC 27 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 12/27/2020 1:06:57 PM IST

A group of farmers protesting the new agricultural legislations banged pots and utensils on Sunday during Narendra Modi’s “Mann Ki Baat” radio programme to express their discontent against the prime minister and his government, NDTV reported. The farmers said they did not wish to listen to a leader who was not willing to listen to them.

According to Scroll, the demonstration took place in three areas – Singhu border, Faridkot in Punjab and Rohtak district of Haryana.

The call for the protest was given by Swaraj India President Yogendra Yadav last Sunday. “On December 27, when the Prime Minister gives his Mann Ki Baat radio address, farmers will say ‘we are tired of listening to your Mann ki Baat, when will you listen to our Mann ki Baat?’” Yadav had said. “So we will bang utensils so that the noise of his Mann ki Baat doesn’t reach us.”

The idea of banging utensils and vessels was first floated by Modi in March, when he announced the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The prime minister had suggested that Indians should assemble at their windows or on their balconies and clap their hands, ring bells or beat on vessels to send a message of appreciation towards all the professionals – nurses, doctors, cleaners, transport workers, police personnel and others – who have been helping battle the contagion as it spread across the country.

In his address to the nation on Sunday, Modi spoke of self-reliance in the times of Covid-19 and India’s ability to end its dependence on foreign products. He also spoke about wildlife conservation, and lauded his government’s cleanliness drive. However, he did not mention the ongoing farmers’ agitation.

The prime minister also urged people to buy “unique” Kashmiri saffron, and asserted that the Centre wanted to make it a globally popular brand. “Saffron has been associated with Kashmir for centuries. Kashmiri saffron is mainly grown in places like Pulwama, Budgam and Kishtwar,” Modi said. “In May this year, the Kashmiri Saffron was given the Geographical Indication Tag or GI tag. Through this, we want to make Kashmiri Saffron a Globally Popular Brand.”

The geographical indication tag is given to certain products to specify their area of origin. In July, Kashmiri saffron received the tag, which put the Valley’s produce on the world map. In India, these tags are issued under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act of 1999. Kashmiri saffron was also launched in the UAE Food Security Summit this year. The Union Territory’s Principal Secretary of Agriculture Navin K Choudhary launched the produce, the prime minister said on Sunday.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for over a month. They fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.

The government maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. It has refused to repeal the legislations, but has offered to amend certain sections.

Several round of talks and negotiations have failed to resolve the crisis. The next round of talks will be held on December 29.


Farmers ready for talk, but have 4 riders

TNN adds: Farm unions opposed to the new laws agreed to resume talks with the Centre and proposed December 29 as a likely date, provided the agenda includes four specific points, including modalities to repeal the laws and a legal guarantee for higher minimum support price (MSP).

Underlining these top two issues, a ‘conditional’ proposal was sent to the Centre from the group of 40 protesting unions, including 32 from Punjab, two days after they had received the agriculture ministry’s revised proposal that mentioned it was ready to discuss all issues, including MSP.

Though the agriculture ministry has agreed on a wide-ranging discussion, it has indicated its unwillingness to consider scrapping the laws it says benefit a large majority of farmers. The insistence of the agitating farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana and some from west UP, that the laws be rolled back has been the central hurdle since talks began on October 13.

The other two points which the unions want to be added are keeping farmers outside the ambit of penalty provision on stubble burning in the new ordinance on air quality management in Delhi-NCR and changes in the proposed Electricity Amendment Bill to protect the interests of farmers. These are not a sticking point, as the agriculture ministry in its last letter to farm unions on December 24 agreed to discuss additional points and has also hinted that the demands can be met.

The unions warned that if the next round of talks also end in a stalemate, they will hold a massive tractor trolley march on December 30. The groups urged farm activists from Punjab, Haryana and other states to reach Singhu border and then march to Tikri and then to Shahjahanpur on the KMP expressway. They urged Delhi residents to celebrate the New Year at protest sites on January 1. BKU Ekta Dakonda general secretary Jagmohan Singh said the government must end the blame game and BKU Rajewal president Balbir Singh Rajewal said "Now, we have sent our agenda clearly mentioning the four points on which we want to talk."

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