New Delhi: The government, as part of its strategy to isolate elements it feels are inimical to the farm reforms, has indicated that it is willing to continue talks with only the genuine unions.
The ‘divide-the-ranks’ gambit came even as PM Modi accused the Opposition of "instigating" and "misleading" the farmers. ‘‘The agriculture reforms that have taken place are exactly what farmer bodies and even the opposition parties have been asking for over the years," PM Modi pointed out.
"A sense of fear is being injected into their (farmers') minds. Farmers are told that their land will be grabbed by others if the new farm laws get implemented," PM Modi said. "I am confident that progressive farmers will defeat those who are engaging in politics, spreading falsehood and using farmers'' shoulders to fire their guns," he added.
Even as the government stuck to its position that there will be no rollback, the farmers also hardened their stand, sounding almost bellicose when they declared the government had little choice in the matter.
‘‘The government is saying 'we won't repeal these laws'. We are saying we will make you do it. The fight has reached a stage where we are determined to win no matter what," farmer leader Jagjeet Dallewal told journalists at Singhu border, reports NDTV.
"We are not running away from negotiation, but the government has to pay heed to our demands and come forward with concrete proposals," he added.
But it was apparent there were fissures in the ranks and some union factions were being co-opted by the government. A faction of the BKU (Kisan Gut) even met Union Agriculture minister Narendra Tomar and said it is suspending its agitation for a month. Other farm unions shrugged off the dissenting voices saying that there was no wavering; nor were there any faultlines in the movement.
Sensing the government’s attempts to sow seeds of doubt, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Badal too sharpened its attack and dubbed the ruling dispensation at the Centre as the "real tukde tukde gang" and accused it of setting Hindus against Sikhs in Punjab to undermine the farmers' protest. "Today it is against farmers. Nobody knows what the BJP might say about soldiers tomorrow, if it suits them. The farmers are hurt and angry with the BJP," he alleged.
PM Modi cited the instances of dairy and fisheries sectors in Gujarat, which grew by leaps and bounds without much intervention of the state government as the business is mainly handled by co-operative sector leaders and farmers. "In other parts of the country too, milk producers and the co-operative sector have created a successful supply chain. Similarly, governments do not have any significant control on the trade of fruits and vegetables.’’
"I am giving these examples because a conspiracy is afoot to confuse farmers who have gathered near Delhi," Modi said.