Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address farmers in Madhya Pradesh tomorrow as massive farmer protests near Delhi against three central laws continue unabated.
The Prime Minister’s address at 2 pm will be via video link and will be telecast to around 23,000 villages, officials said.
The government’s latest outreach comes amid strong remarks by the Supreme Court, which is hearing multiple petitions on the farmer protests on highways near Delhi.
“We acknowledge the farmers have the right to protest. We will not interfere. We will ask the centre if the manner of protests can be altered to ensure citizen’s rights are not violated either,” the Supreme Court said today.
But the court also told farmers: “People are going hungry in Delhi because of your actions blocking the roads. You have a right to protest. We are not going to interfere. Your protest has a purpose. And that must be fulfilled by talking to someone. You simply cannot sit on protest for years.”
For two days, the Supreme Court has sought an urgent solution to the protests, saying they would “go national” if not resolved soon. Yesterday, the court had said talks had failed so far and suggested a panel including the government and farmers to work out a solution.
PM Modi’s address will focus on a relief package of ₹ 1,600 crore to be credited directly to 35 lakh farmers hit by damage to their crop.
But in most recent public speeches in recent weeks, the Prime Minister has made references to farmers and defended the new agricultural laws that were enacted in September. Farmers fear the laws will deprive them of the safety of guaranteed minimum prices and leave them open to exploitation by corporates.
The government has refused to scrap the laws, which they say will bring about much-need reforms by giving farmers direct access to markets across India and doing away with middlemen, but has offered to amend them to provide an assurance on Minimum Support Price (MSP). The farmers have rejected the offer.
In Gujarat earlier this week, the PM accused the opposition of misleading and confusing the farmers. “The agriculture reforms that have taken place are exactly what farmer bodies and even opposition parties have been asking over the years. We will keep assuring the farmers and addressing their concerns,” he said.