PM Narendra Modi prays at Gurudwara Rakabganj, New Delhi on 20 December, 2020 | @narendramodi | Twitter
PM Narendra Modi prays at Gurudwara Rakabganj, New Delhi on 20 December, 2020 | @narendramodi | Twitter

New Delhi: The ongoing farmers’ protest, the upcoming elections in West Bengal and a new, more infectious strain of Covid-19 that is spreading through the UK — prime time debates Monday were all over the place.

The protests by over 500 farmers’ organisations against the Narendra Modi government’s contentious farm laws entered day 26 Tuesday. Amid this, NewsX’s Uday Pratap Singh discussed Prime Minister Modi’s “kisaan (farmers) outreach” after he visited Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib in Delhi Sunday.

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Uday said the PM’s visit is “being looked at as a moral victory for the farmers”.

The anchor asked Sanjay Nath Singh, general secretary of the All India Farmers Association, about the farmers backing the new laws. Sanjay replied: “The voice of the farmers in favour of these laws was not being heard…They are not convinced that the same market system should continue.”

In a confusing turnaround, he also alleged that NCP chief Sharad Pawar, who has backed the recent farmers’ protest, wanted to see an end to APMCs when he was the Agriculture Minister in 2005.

BJP spokesperson Gulrez Sheikh said farmer issues like suicides have been spoken about since India gained independence but “nobody did anything to reform that.” He added that the current “status quo” was not going to raise their standard of living.

Ravish Kumar continued with his unwavering focus on farmers on NDTV India. “The protests have been going on for 26 days but even now the BJP government has not been able to come up with a solution that everyone agrees to,” he said.

Taking issue with Bihar Agriculture Minister Amrendra Pratap Singh’s comment that the protesters weren’t farmers but brokers, Ravish said, “If they were brokers, they wouldn’t sit on such a dharna and wouldn’t die under the open sky and this cold.”

Steering clear of the farmer’s protests, Times Now’s Navika Kumar discussed the new Covid strain spreading in the UK and India’s preventive action of suspending flights to the country.

“This strain was discovered in the UK itself around September. How do we know that this did not get transmitted en masse to other countries because travel had been going on as normal?” asked Kumar.

However, Professor Geoffrey Smith, head of the pathology department in the University of Cambridge, assuaged fears by noting that mutations in virus were common. He also said that it was possible the new strain had already been transmitted to other parts of the world.

Smith then stoked fears once more when he said that viruses generally become resistant to vaccines.

Meanwhile, Dr. V.K. Paul, NITI Aayog member, ruled out a lockdown in view of the new strain. He added: “This new strain is of concern but there is no need to panic. There is every reason for us to continue our vigil.”

On Republic TV, anchor Arnab Goswami focussed on the upcoming assembly polls in West Bengal. He specifically discussed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s latest jibe at the BJP, calling it a “party of cheats”.

Senior journalist Kanchan Gupta said, “West Bengal election will be contested on three fundamentals. Where is the change promised by the Trinamool Congress? …Two, why hasn’t the political violence come to an end? Number three, where are the jobs?”

When Goswami said West Bengal has the highest number of illegal immigrants, political analyst Shubham Ganguly remarked: “It is the central government’s duty to guard the borders. It’s not the state’s prerogative…It is the BSF that guards the borders. The BJP has not just cheated the people of Bengal but the people of India…Trinamool Congress is the real party with a difference.”

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