New Delhi: The government at the Centre on Wednesday proposed suspend the three contentious farm laws for 1.5 to two years during the 10th round of talks with the protesting farmers unions. The next round of meeting has been scheduled for January 22. Soon after the meeting, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, “Government ready to keep three farm laws suspended for 1-1.5 years, during which solution can be reached with mutual dialogue.” Also Read - We Will Ask People To Vote Against BJP: Farmer Union Plans To Send Teams To Poll-bound West Bengal, Kerala
Stating that talks are progressing in the right direction, Minister Tomar said, “Talks held in cordial atmosphere despite some ‘naram-garam’ moments. However, I feel that talks are progressing in the right direction and there is a possibility of finding a resolution on January 22. I’m happy that farmer unions have taken this very seriously and said that they would consider it tomorrow and convey their decision on January 22.” Also Read - Man Stops Ajay Devgn's Car in Mumbai to Ask Him to Speak on Farmers Protest, Arrested
The farmers, however, wanted a complete withdrawal of the laws as a mere suspension of the laws for some period of time will not bring about any change, farmer leaders said on Wednesday after the 10th round of talks concluded. Also Read - Arvind Kejriwal Blames BJP For Red Fort Violence, Says Farmers Can Be Anything But Anti-Nationals
Meanwhile, All India Kisan Sabha’s General Secretary Hannan Mollah said, “Govt said that it is ready to file an affidavit in the court to the effect that it would put the implementation of the laws on hold for one & half a year. They also said that a committee would be formed on MSP and the laws and they would implement the recommendations of the committee. We’ll hold a meeting tomorrow and take a decision on the proposal.”
Reacting to the government’s proposal, a farmer union leader said, “There is no point in suspending the laws and made it clear that we want the repeal of the laws.”
Earlier in the day, farmer leaders also raised the issue of NIA notices being served to some farmers, alleging it was being done just to harass those supporting the agitation, to which the government representatives said they will look into the matter.
During a break amid the round of talks, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) general secretary Yudhvir Singh said, “The stalemate is continuing over the three laws and I don’t think any solution will emerge from today’s meeting. Both sides are adamant on their position.”
He said the government is insisting on first discussing the three laws and wants to take up the MSP (Minimum Support Price) matter later.
“We will insist on a discussion on MSP after the tea break and also try to seek the next date for meeting before January 26,” Singh said.
Another farmer leader Rakesh Tikait said, “The government is not ready to repeal the three laws and farmers are not ready for amendments. The government doesn’t want to discuss MSP.”
“No solution will emerge from today’s meeting. We will meet again on the next date,” he said.
Tikait also said the union leaders raised the NIA (National Investigation Agency) issue in the meeting, to which the ministers said they will look into it.
The meeting began at around 2.45 pm with the three ministers greeting farmer leaders on the occasion of Gurupurab. The meeting resumed at around 5.15 pm after a lunch break, but the two sides took another break at around 6 pm during which the farmer leaders discussed the government proposal for suspending the laws for a fixed period of time.
Farmer leader Kavitha Kuruganti said the meeting began with the NIA issue, followed by unions’ demand for a repeal of the laws.
The farmer leaders presented multiple Parliament replies given by the agriculture minister where he had stated that agriculture is a state subject, while one reply mentioned even agri-marketing as a state subject.
She said the discussion did not appear progressing anywhere.
“The government offered to carry out some amendments, but farmer leaders maintained they do not want anything less than a complete repeal of the laws,” Tikait said.
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railways, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce Som Parkash, who is an MP from Punjab, were present during the talks with the representatives of around 40 farmer unions at the Vigyan Bhawan.
Before the meeting, the three ministers also met senior BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
The tenth round of talks was initially scheduled on January 19, but later got postponed to Wednesday. In the last round of talks, the government had asked protesting farmers to prepare a concrete proposal about their objections and suggestions on the three farm laws for further discussion at their next meeting to end the long-running protest. But, unions stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three Acts.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, are protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now against the three laws. Farmer groups have alleged these laws will end the mandi and MSP procurement systems and leave the farmers at the mercy of big corporates, even as the government has rejected these apprehensions as misplaced.
On January 11, the Supreme Court had stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse.
Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann had recused himself from the committee appointed by the apex court.
Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra) president Anil Ghanwat and agriculture economists Pramod Kumar Joshi and Ashok Gulati are the other three members on the panel. On Tuesday, the SC panel held its first meeting in the national capital.
Under attack from protesting unions for their “pro-government” public stand on three contentious farm laws, the members of the committee said that they would keep aside their own ideology and views while consulting various stakeholders, even as they indicated a complete repeal won’t augur well for much-needed agriculture reforms.
Earlier in the day, a group of farm union leaders met top officials of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh police to discuss the route and arrangements for their tractor rally on January 26 to protest against the three farm laws.
But the unions rejected a suggestion by police officers to hold their rally on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway instead of Delhi’s Outer Ring Road, sources said.
(With Agency Inputs)