"Here As Volunteer, Not Chief Minister": Arvind Kejriwal Visits Farmers

Farmer protests news: The Aam Aadmi Party leader is the first chief minister of a state to visit a protest venue.

Arvind Kejriwal visited the Singhu border along with his cabinet members shortly after 10 am

New Delhi:

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today visited the Delhi-Haryana border, where thousands of farmers are protesting against the controversial farm laws, and checked arrangements made for them by his government.

Mr Kejriwal was accompanied by his Cabinet ministers and some party MLAs during the brief visit to the protest venue at Singhu.

"We support all demands of farmers. Their issue and demands are valid. My party and I have stood with them from the very beginning. At the beginning of their protests, Delhi Police had sought permission to convert nine stadiums into jails. I was pressurised but didn't permit," said Mr Kejriwal, who is the first chief minister of a state to visit a protest venue.

"Our party, MLAs and leaders have been serving farmers as 'sevadars' (volunteer) ever since. I haven't come here as CM but as a 'sevadar'. Farmers are in trouble today, we should stand with them. AAP supports December 8th Bharat Bandh, party workers will participate in it across the nation," he added.

Mr Kejriwal is among the several opposition leaders who have extended support for "Bharat bandh", which has been called for by the thousands of farmers protesting against the centre's contentious new farm laws.

Peaceful protests are underway at both the Singhu and Tikri borders, where farmers had gathered from Punjab and Haryana for more than 10 days. The numbers of farmers at the Ghazipur border swelled,with more joining them from Uttar Pradesh.

Farmers protesting the centre's new farm laws have agreed to a sixth round of talks - scheduled for Wednesday - after the last meeting yielded no breakthrough on the core issue - repeal of three laws that critics have dubbed "black" and "anti-farmer". 

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who was part of the centre's negotiating team, told the farmers the government needed more time for internal discussions and said a fresh proposal would be tabled at next week's meeting.

The new laws, aimed at doing away with middlemen and allowing farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country, has deeply upset the farmers. The farmers say it will only result in phasing out of the traditional mandis and the guaranteed minimum price paid by the government, leaving them at the mercy of the corporates.

With inputs from agencies