Farmer protests – No date has been set for next meeting as talks once again end in deadlock
Government negotiations with protesting farm unions today hit a roadblock as leaders farmers confirmed their demands for the complete repeal of the three agricultural laws and a legal guarantee for MSP, while the Center insisted that it consider its proposal to suspend the laws for 12 to 18 months.
- Unlike the previous 10 rounds of negotiations, the 11th round could not even reach a decision on the date of the next meeting as the government also hardened its stance, saying it was ready to meet again once the unions will agree.
- This followed a refusal by the Center in the last round, when they proposed to suspend the laws and form a joint committee to seek solutions.
- According to one of the union leaders, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar ended the meeting by saying that there was no loophole in the law but that the Center had still made a proposal regarding farmers.
- However, the farmers had not been able to make a decision. “If you come to a decision, let us know and we’ll talk about it again,” the union leader said, quoting the minister.
- Meanwhile, peasant leaders said on Friday that their January 26 tractor rally proposal will take place on Delhi’s busy ring road, as previously decided, after the 11th round of negotiations with the government ends in deadlock.
Bihar Police Turn ‘Offensive’ Social Media Posts Against Government As Cybercrime
Bihar will witness actions under Cybercrime Law against individuals and organizations for ‘offensive comments’ against the government, its officials, ministers, parliamentarians, deputies and officials.
Congress will appoint a new party chairman in June; CWC asks JPC on Arnab’s WhatsApp talks
The Congressional Working Committee (CWC) on Friday postponed a decision to elect a new party chairman until June, even as it passed three resolutions, including one calling for a joint parliamentary committee investigation into Republic TV promoter Arnab Goswami WhatsApp Chats.
- Explaining the reason for the delay, party secretaries general KC Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala said that although May was suggested by the central electoral authority, it was postponed following assembly elections in Assam , Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.
- Another issue that needed to be clarified was whether the election of CWC members (12 of the 25 are slated for election) should be done with the party chairman or later, once the new chairman takes over, said Venugopal.
- The other two resolutions aimed to support farmers’ organizations in the “decisive” fight against agricultural laws and to express their gratitude to scientists for developing the Covid-19 vaccine in record time.
- In her opening address to the CWC, party chair Sonia Gandhi touched on all of the issues that have been passed as resolutions and accused the government of “deafening silence” over WhatsApp chats.
- Referring to the ongoing discussions between the Center and the farmers, he said: “The agitation of the farmers continues and the government has shown shocking callousness and arrogance through the farce of consultations.”
Bengal Forests Minister Rajib Banerjee resigns
West Bengal Forests Minister Rajib Banerjee resigned from the cabinet on Friday. Banerjee is the third to resign from the cabinet in the past two months. Former Trinamool heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari, who had multiple portfolios including transportation, resigned from the cabinet in December 2020 and joined the BJP.
- Former Indian cricketer and sports minister Laxmi Ratan Shukla resigned a few weeks ago, but has not elucidated speculation about his political future.
- Banerjee has made public his differences with the party in recent months. Not only was he absent from various cabinet meetings, but he also spoke out against favoritism within the party.
- On January 16, he took to social media and said that he was going through a test of patience. He had told sources close to him that he would remain active in politics.
- There is much speculation that he will join the BJP. BJP state chairman Dilip Ghosh said that Banerjee was still an MP for Trinamool and that he should leave the party before joining the BJP. In recent months, around 10 MPs left the Trinamool Congress and joined the BJP.
Covid Watch: The number of coronavirus cases reported in India was 1,06,34,283 at the time of this newsletter, with a death toll of 1,54,477.