Union minister Rajnath Singh on Monday defended the three farm laws that are at the heart of protests. Rajnath reiterated that the reforms will benefit farmers and ruled out taking retrograde steps against agricultural sector. He said that the laws enacted in September will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
"Agriculture has been one sector which has been able to avoid the adverse effects of the pandemic and, in fact, come out the best. Our produce and procurement have been plentiful and our warehouses are full," Rajnath said.
The BJP leader said that the government is always willing to listen to the farmers, alley their misgivings and provide them with assurances we can provide.
"Our government is always open to discussion and dialogue," the Defence minister said while speaking at the annual general meeting of industry chamber FICCI.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, are currently staying put at Delhi's borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in protest against the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. They have expressed apprehension that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price system, leaving them at the "mercy" of big corporations. However, the government has maintained that the new laws will bring farmers better opportunities and usher in new technologies in agriculture.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on December 16 a plea seeking a direction to authorities to immediately remove the farmers who are protesting at several border points of Delhi against three new farm laws, saying commuters are facing hardships due to the road blockades and the gatherings might lead to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. According to the apex court website, a bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian will hear the plea filed by law student Rishabh Sharma, who has also sought directions to authorities to open the roads at Delhi's borders, shift the protesters to the allotted place and provide guidelines on social distancing and use of masks at the protest site to curb the spread of COVID-19.