The farmer unions, who are protesting against the contentious farm bills passed by the Central government in September, rejected the proposal by the Modi government to put the laws on hold for at least 18 months and said that they want nothing but complete withdrawal. “In a full general body meeting of Samyukt Kisan Morcha today, the proposal put forth by the Govt yesterday was rejected. A full repeal of three laws and enacting legislation for remunerative MSP for all farmers were reiterated as the pending demands of the movement, Samyukt Kisan Morcha said after discussing the Centre’s proposal. Also Read - Who is Sister P Niveda, The Nurse Who Administered First Dose of Coronavirus Vaccine to PM Modi?
“It’s been decided that no proposal of Govt will be accepted until & unless they repeal the laws. In tomorrow’s meet (with Govt) we’ll say that we’ve only one demand, repeal the laws & legally authorise MSP. All these have been unanimously decided,” Farmer leader Joginder S Ugrahan said. Also Read - Ghulam Nabi Azad Praises PM Modi, Says "Proud Of Leaders Like Our PM, Doesn't Hide True Self"
Yesterday, the government tried to yield some ground to end the nearly two-month-long protest by thousands of farmers on the national capital borders. On Wednesday, the government proposed to suspend the three contentious farm laws for 1-1.5 years and set up a joint committee to find an amicable solution in the interest of the farming community. Also Read - Arvind Kejriwal Blames BJP For Red Fort Violence, Says Farmers Can Be Anything But Anti-Nationals
During their tenth round of negotiations with three central ministers, the two sides decided to meet again on Friday after the union leaders hold their own internal consultations on Thursday to decide on the government’s new proposal.
Briefing media after a nearly five-hour-long meeting that included two breaks, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the government has proposed to suspend implementation of the three laws for 1-1.5 years, during which period a joint committee of representatives from the government and farmers’ sides can continue their talks and those protesting on Delhi borders in extremely cold weather return to their homes.
The three laws have already been stayed by the Supreme Court till further orders and a committee of experts has been formed to resolve the deadlock. The panel has been asked by the apex court to submit its report within two months after consulting all stakeholders.
The committee held its first meeting on Tuesday and will begin its consultations with farmer groups and others from Thursday.
After the meeting, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan said, “The government proposed to suspend the farm laws for one and a half years. We rejected the proposal but since it has come from the government, we will meet tomorrow and deliberate over it.”
Another farmer leader Kavitha Kuruganti said the government also proposed to submit an affidavit in the Supreme Court for suspending the three farm laws for a mutually-agreed period and set up a committee.
Kulwant Singh Sandhu of Jamuri Kisan Sabha said, “The government is on backfoot and it has started yielding ground to us.”
Earlier during the meeting, the government also again offered to amend the three laws but farmer leaders stuck to their demand for a complete repeal and alleged that the Centre was avoiding discussion on a legal guarantee for MSP.
Farmer leaders said there was no breakthrough in the first two sessions as both sides were stuck on their stated positions vis-a-vis the three farm laws and it was clear from the very beginning that there was little hope of any outcome other than fixing the date for the 11th round.
Tomar, however, said the government was keen to reach a final decision in today’s meeting on the auspicious day of Gurupurab and therefore it started with greetings for the occasion.
“The government was ready to discuss provisions of the laws with an open mind and a big heart,” he said.
The minister said the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere despite some ‘naram-garam’ moments (softening and hardening of the stand) and farmers remained adamant on their demand for the repeal of the laws.
He, however, asserted that some headway was made towards reaching a solution in the next meeting to end the agitation.
“It will be victory for Indian democracy the day farmers’ agitation ends and they return to their homes,” he said in reply to a question whether it would be a victory for the farmers or the government.
Asked whether the January 22 meeting at 12 pm could be the last one, Tomar said he is hopeful of reaching an amicable solution in the next round of talks.
The minister said the new proposal has been made to allay farmers’ apprehensions and instill confidence that the government is ready for discussion with an open heart.
“The Supreme Court has stayed the agri-reform laws for a short duration. Their implementation will not happen for some time. But, we have been telling the unions that it will require more time to consider the laws and to discuss other aspects related to the agitation. The required time maybe six months, one year or one and half years,” he said.