New Delhi, Dec 27 (PTI) Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday appealed to the Centre to repeal the new farm laws and said farmers are protesting for their survival.
In his second visit to the Singhu border, where thousands of farmers have been protesting against the laws since November last week, Kejriwal said, 'I challenge any Union minister to have an open debate with the farmers and it will be clear how harmful these laws are.' The chief minister had first visited Singhu on the Delhi-Haryana border on December 7.
'More than 40 people have lost their lives here. Today, through this platform, and at such a sacred place, I want to appeal to the central government with folded hands to repeal these farm laws. These are our people, our brothers, sisters, mothers and elders. These are the people of our nation, listen to them, and end their struggle here. How many lives will you take?' he said.
Kejriwal, who is also the Aam Aadmi Party's national convener, claimed that through these laws, corporates will take over the country's farming sector.
'What will the farmers do if you take farming away from them? The farmers who are sitting on the borders today with their elders and children are sitting here for their survival. If the big companies take over farming, the farmers will be left with nothing,' he said.
Kejriwal said ministers, big leaders and some chief ministers have been speaking in support of these laws.
'I heard all their speeches, but I have not heard even a single leader talking about how these farm laws benefit farmers,' he said.
The chief minister said that these big leaders, while counting the benefits of these farm laws, first say land will not be taken away from the farmers. 'Is this a benefit?' he asked.
Then they say 'MSP (minimum support price) and the mandis of the farmers will not be revoked, is this a benefit? Why have you brought the laws then? Instead of telling the benefits, they are justifying that these laws are no harm to the farmers. Who will benefit then?' he asked.
Kejriwal claimed that the only benefit the Centre tells is farmers will be able to sell their produce anywhere in the country outside of mandis.
'If a crop is being sold at Rs 800 per quintal in Bihar where there are no mandis, and the MSP is Rs 1,850 per quintal where do our farmers from Bihar and UP sell their produce for more than Rs 1,850? They cannot even get 50 per cent of the price outside of mandis. This is not a benefit to the farmers but to the big companies and the rich,' he said.
Kejriwal said the whole country is divided -- one side wants to benefit the rich by harming farmers, and the second is standing with farmers without caring for the rich.
'They are also playing blame games by saying that the farmers are being misled. I want to challenge the Centre to send in their experts on these farm laws and have a public debate with the leaders of the farmer unions. They say that the farmers do not fully know about these laws, the public debate will show how much they know,' he said.
Kejriwal said a debate between a central minister, who is an expert on these laws, and farmer leaders will clear everything, and the whole nation will get to know how dangerous these farm laws are.
'I want to appeal to the Central government to not let any more farmers sacrifice their lives. This is a fight for their survival. The Central government should repeal these farm laws as soon as possible, guarantee MSP in the law, and end the struggle of the farmers,' he added.
Kejriwal was accompanied by his deputy Manish Sisodia.
'Farmers are protesting for their survival. These laws will snatch away farming from farmers. I appeal with folded hands to the Centre to please repeal the three agri laws,' he said.
Sisodia told the protesting farmers, 'We are closely watching all the arrangements and we are ensuring that the pain you (farmers) endure is minimum.' Kejriwal joined the 'Safar-e-Shahadat' Kirtan Darbaar organised by the Delhi government at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Memorial at the Singhu border During his first visit, Kejriwal had checked the arrangements made for farmers by the Delhi government.
Kejriwal and his party AAP have strongly come out in favour of the farmers protesting against the new agri laws.
Besides Singhu, farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, are also protesting at various other border points of Delhi against the new farm laws.
Farmers are protesting against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The three farm laws, enacted in September, have been projected by the government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. The Centre has repeatedly asserted that these mechanisms will remain. PTI NIT UZM ANB ANB