Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to hold a virtual meet with nine crore farmers on December 25, former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s birth anniversary, during which he will clarify the Centre’s position on the farm laws, and release the next round of financial aid – ₹ 18,000 crore – from the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme. The meeting will include a conversation with select farmers from six states who “will share their experiences… on initiatives taken by the government for their welfare”, a statement from the PM’s Office said Wednesday evening.

This virtual interaction is a part of the Centre’s efforts – spanning 100 press conferences and 700 meetings – to combat a nearly month-long protest against the agriculture laws by thousands of agitated farmers. The BJP will also distribute an open letter to farmers written by Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

The issue of MSP is at the heart of the present crisis. The new agriculture laws do not mention the MSP system in which the government buys farmers’ produce at a minimum price which provides a safety net to farmers. The Centre reiterated that the system is not being done away with. The ministry also agreed to amend the laws to clarify on MSP. But the farmers have said they don’t want amendments, they want a complete withdrawal of the laws.

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The protesters have raised the demand of higher MSP in their letter to the Centre. “We request the government that instead of repeating your proposals and amendments, you should offer something concrete in writing so that we can make that the basis of our agenda to resume the dialogue process,” the letter stated.

The protests have now entered Day 29 as there seems to be no solution for this deadlock in sight. Yudhvir Singh, Bhartiya Kisan Union said, “Govt. is taking our issues lightly, I’m warning them to take cognizance of this matter & find a solution soon”. Swaraj India’s Yogendra Yadav read the United Farmers’ Front’s new letter addressed to Centre which stated, “We want to assure Centre that protesting farmers & unions are ready for a discussion with govt. We’re waiting for govt to take the discussion forward with an open mind & neat intention”.

Around 20,000 members of the Kisan Sena will march from western Uttar Pradesh to Delhi Thursday to highlight their support of the Centre’s farm laws. These will include farmers from districts like Mathura, Agra, Firozabad and Hathras, as well as those from the Meerut and Muzaffarnagar districts.

Rahul Gandhi will lead a demonstration today around 11am from Vijay Chowk to Rashtrapati Bhavan with Congress MPs, following which he, along with senior leaders, will meet President Ram Nath Kovind and submit a memorandum containing 2 crore signatures for his intervention. This is being done to showcase their solidarity with the farmers.

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