PM called farmers' protest sacred after facing flak for 'andolanjivi' remark: Farmer leader Rajewal

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Jagraon (Ludhiana), Feb 11 (PTI) Farmer leader Balbir Singh Rajewal on Thursday claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the farmers' agitation against the new agri laws 'sacred' after facing flak for his 'andolanjivi' remark.

Prime Minister Modi in Lok Sabha on Wednesday had asserted that he holds the farmers' agitation 'sacred' and had made a fresh appeal to them to resume talks with the Centre. Two days earlier, during his speech in Rajya Sabha, Modi had sought to make a distinction between 'andolankari' (agitators) and 'andolanjivi', a barb for people who jump from one protest to another.

The 'andolanjivi' remark was criticised by opposition parties, including the Congress, and the farmer unions protesting against the laws at various Delhi border points since last November.

The 'black' farm laws will destroy the farming community, Rajewal, who is the president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal), said while addressing a well-attended 'Kisan Mahapanchayat' at Jagraon in Ludhiana, a first such in Punjab.

Recently, a series of 'mahapanchayats' were held in neighbouring Haryana against the laws and three of these were addressed by Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait, who along with farmers has been protesting at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh Ghazipur border for over two months.

'Today he (Modi) says it is a 'pavitra andolan' (sacred agitation). He earlier called you parasites. He had said they are in the habit of holding protests. But when it (the remarks) was opposed throughout the world then he said it is a 'pavitra andolan',' said Rajewal referring to the prime minister's address in Parliament on Monday.

Modi in Rajya Sabha had also slammed the mushrooming of a new breed of 'andolanjivi' -- professional protestors -- who can be seen at every agitation. These 'parasites feast on every agitation,' he had said, asking the country to guard against them.

Speaking at the 'mahapanchayat', Rajewal claimed that he had met many prime ministers. 'But I find today's PM as the biggest 'dramebaaz' and the biggest liar,' he alleged.

Slamming the farm laws, Rajewal said the legislations are entirely 'wrong'.

The BKU (Rajewal) president claimed that the Centre brought these farm laws despite agriculture being a state subject.

He claimed that these laws were framed for carrying out 'trade' and pleasing corporate houses, and not for farmers.

Rajewal said the farm agitation has become a 'mass movement.' Thousands of farmers have been protesting at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh demanding the rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act.

However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.

Rajewal said he suspects that with these new farm laws, farmers after a certain period would be at the 'mercy' of private companies as government mandis would cease to exist.

The Centre has been told that these laws will destroy government mandis (wholesale markets) and corporates will set up private 'mandis' and then 'loot' people, he said.

Farmers will not be able to sell their marketable surplus once government mandis shut down, Rajewal said as he appealed to farmers to keep their agitation peaceful.

'The struggle may be long. But if we remain peaceful and non-violent, we shall certainly win,' he said.

Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan also hit out at the Centre for bringing the 'anti-farmer' laws and exhorted people to prepare for a 'long battle'.

'We had never asked for favours like contract farming, alternative marketing from the government. Why did a need arise to bring them,' he asked.

Ugrahan said that the government was trying to 'impose a globally failed model' of agricultural system on farmers. Over 80 per cent of farmers, especially small cultivators, will lose their landholdings to corporates because of the laws, he claimed.

'We will not allow these laws to be implemented,' he said.

Manjit Singh Dhaner, vice president of BKU (Dakaunda), Kulwant Singh Sandhu of Jamhoori Kisan Sabha and Harinder Singh Lakhowal of BKU (Lakhowal) were also present at them ahapanchayat, which was attended by a women in large numbers. PTI CHS CORR VSD ANB ANB