Farmer unions protesting against the three new agri laws Wednesday claimed the cancellation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India later this month was a “political win” for them and a “diplomatic defeat” for the government, and asserted their agitation has been receiving global support. Johnson was scheduled to attend the Republic Day celebrations in India as Chief Guest, but the visit had to be cancelled due to the growing health crisis in the UK after a new variant of coronavirus emerged there.
“The cancellation of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s India visit is a political win for farmers and a diplomatic defeat for the Modi government…political and social organisations across the world have been supporting the agitation,” Sankyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of the protesting farmer unions, said in a statement in Hindi. The statement said the farmers have already announced a tractor protest march on January 26 and a “rehearsal” for it on January 7. “The cancellation of the UK prime minister’s visit because of all these efforts is surely a big victory for farmers,” the statement said.
According to a release issued by the Prime Minister’s office here on Tuesday, PM Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Johnson. “Prime Minister Johnson reiterated his thanks for India’s invitation for him as the Chief Guest of the forthcoming Republic Day celebrations, but regretted his inability to attend in view of the changed COVID-19 context prevailing in the UK. He reiterated his keenness to visit India in the near future,” it had stated. The protesting farm unions have claimed that around 80 farmers have died they have called them “martyrs” — since their agitation began.
“Farmers’ movement is now becoming people’s movement,” the Morcha statement said. Meanwhile, All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, one of the 40 protesting unions, alleged in statement that the Central government is “non-serious” on the demands of peasants. “The Central government is non-serious about talks and solving farmers’ problems. In the 7th round of talks, it finally stated clearly that it has understood that the demand is for repeal and that it will have to undertake ‘further consultation’,” AIKSCC claimed.
The seventh round of talks between the protesting unions and three Central ministers ended inconclusively on Monday as farmer groups stuck to their demand for the repeal of three laws, while the government listed out various benefits of the new Acts for the growth of the country’s agriculture sector. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said he remains hopeful of a solution in the next meeting on January 8, but asserted that efforts need to be made from both sides for a resolution to be reached (taali dono haathon se bajti hai).
While several opposition parties and people from other walks of life have come out in support of the farmers, some farmer groups have also met the agriculture minister over the last few weeks to extend their support to the three laws. Last month, the government had sent a draft proposal to the protesting farmer unions, suggesting seven-eight amendments to the new laws and a written assurance on the MSP procurement system. The government has ruled out a repeal of the three agri laws.