Addressing a press conference in Chandigarh after his visit to the venue of a BJP “kisan panchayat” in Karnal’s Kaimla village was cancelled, Khattar said: “The Government is not going to repeal these laws. It is certain. Even if state governments are to be exempted, there will only be amendments. A resolution can be reached after discussion on certain points. But I don’t think the Government is going to withdraw these laws. I am hopeful that discussions are going in the right direction, that is why the next date of meeting has been fixed.”
Asked about the laws, he said: “Whenever a new policy is made, it always takes time to see its benefits. Had we waited for some time, we would have gone to the Union Government and said that there were discrepancies in these laws. I believe we should wait for at least one year to see its benefits. Even today, these farm legislations are not binding on farmers. Mandis are there, MSP is there and shall always be there. Only an alternative has been given to the farmers. If they get MSP out of the mandi, why would farmers object to that? It will benefit them.”
Referring to the scheduled visit to Karnal, his home constituency, the Chief Minister said that he “had to make some announcements of Rs 100-crore development projects at the village”.
Besides, the state’s BJP and ally JJP leaders, including ministers and MPs, have mostly been confined to offices and homes and avoiding non-party public appearances. Several videos have surfaced on social media of senior leaders from both parties being abused on visits to villages where the protests have gained ground.
Haryana police’s intelligence wing, meanwhile, advised BJP and ally JJP ministers to not venture out in public without adequate security cover. MLAs from both parties were also advised to convey their tour programmes to district administrations in advance to ensure adequate security.
As part of preparations for a large protest on Republic Day during which farmers would bring their tractors into the capital, farm unions are carrying out a mass recruitment drive in villages across Punjab. Over the last two days, thousands have signed up.
Farmer unions had earlier announced they would march to the capital on January 26 if their demands to repeal the farm laws are not met. Rajinder Singh, vice-president, Kirti Kisan Union Punjab, said: “We began the drive last Friday and it has received a good response. This is being done so that our movement is well organised . We will note down details of all volunteers who will travel to Singhu ahead of Republic Day. We are expecting lakhs of people from Punjab to turn up…”