As farmers reject conciliatory proposals, BJP-led Centre in Catch-22 state of affairs

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 9

As farmers on Wednesday turned down the conciliatory moves by the BJP-led Centre, the Narendra Modi government is facing an unprecedented domestic situation, which it has not seen or dealt with in the past six years in power.

The only time it was forced to make some sort of a U-turn on an issue was in 2015 when it agreed to drop amendments to the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. 

The offer of nine amendments in five laws was rejected by unions, who also declared to intensify their agitation, adding to the problems of the government, though BJP leaders quoted Rajasthan ‘panchayat’, Greater Hyderabad municipal and Bihar victories to claim endorsement of new farm laws by rural India.

Apparently, the matter was discussed in the Cabinet meeting and after farmers struck down the offer of a “middle-path”, indicating a communication breakdown between the two sides as on date, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar called on Home Minister Amit Shah. Though Union Minister Prakash Javadekar called deliberations with farmers “work in progress”. 

It remains to be seen whether PM Modi will emerge as the last stop in the government’s strategy after Amit Shah’s surprise intervention yesterday. So far there is no clarity over the next round of talks between the government and farmers. The sixth round scheduled today was cancelled after Shah’s meeting with 13 union leaders that clearly failed to resolve anything. 

The fact is while the BJP-led Centre is under pressure to resolve the issue, farmer leaders are also under pressure to not give in. The BJP is citing the win in Rajasthan local bodies as proof of farmers’ overwhelming support for the “BJP’s stand on farm reforms”. Party president JP Nadda said the victory symbolises the trust the poor, farmers and labourers have in the leadership of PM Modi.

However, the agitation is now spilling beyond Delhi, which continues to be the main point of farmers’ protest. While there is a ‘Dilli chalo’ call to north Indian farmers, farmers in South India and other distant states will protest at district headquarters, say farmer leaders. The government may be counting on support from some unions on its middle path proposal but majority of farmers are not in the mood to listen, calling its proposals an “insult”.

The government which apparently shelved its decision regarding tax concessions to corporates after the famous ‘suit-boot ki sarkar’ jibe by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, will be witnessing the mother of all protests against corporates. The farmers have also given a call for “boycotting Jio services and similarly Adani/Ambani malls, products, etc”.

Centre’s proposals 


1.        State governments can collect market cess/fees on transactions outside the market yards also, if they want.

2.        State governments can do registration of traders, if they want. 

3.        Farmers will be able to go to Civil Courts for dispute resolution, in addition to existing mechanisms in the law.

FAPAFS Act (Contract Farming Promotion Act)

4.        Registering contracts between farmers and company within 30 days 

5.        Farmers land or any structure created on it under the contract cannot be mortgaged, leased, removed etc 

6.        Farmers’ land cannot be attached under any circumstances.

MSP and procurement:

7.        Written assurance that current procurement levels of the government at MSP will be kept in future also.

Electricity Act (Amendment) Bill:

8.        Electricity (Amendment) Bill is still a draft, no change in the present system

Air Quality Ordinance:

9.        Concerns regarding the provisions of the Air Quality Ordinance will be addressed.

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