Centre-farmers talks: Forward of ninth spherical, Mann recuses himself from SC-appointed committee

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 14

Ahead of the ninth round of Centre-farmer talks on Friday, there have been some major developments on the ongoing agitation. Amid growing criticism, including from his own union, BKU’s Bhupinder Singh Mann (one of the four experts nominated by the Supreme Court for negotiations with farmers protesting against the three farm laws) today recused himself from the committee.

Meanwhile amid the growing social media buzz on unions “tractor parade” on the Republic Day, farmers’ leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said the January-26 plan will be revealed after the meeting with the Union ministers. He also urged everyone to maintain peace and harmony and not pay heed to “false and unfounded inflammatory propaganda and rumour mongering” on the tractor march to “malign and scuttle the movement”.

Even as Rajewal said unions will finalise the contours of January 26 tractor march after their meeting with Central ministers on Friday, BKU leader from Uttar Pradesh Rakesh Tikait announced the programme for the day saying that farmers will hold simultaneous parade from Red Fort to India Gate on the Republic Day.

“The Republic Day Parade has been cut short, it will now be from Rashtrapati Bhawan to India Gate, I am told. We will march from Red Fort to India Gate and meet it there. It will be a historic event,” Tikait said in what is being seen as breaking ranks in the agitation.

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar expressed hope of positive discussions tomorrow.

Clearing the confusion over the fate of tomorrow’s meeting (the only outcome of the January-8 talks) after the SC ruling on Tuesday and Mann recusing from the court-appointed panel today, Tomar said the talks will be held as scheduled. While they have already specified that they will not appear before the court-appointed panel, farmer unions said they were ready to attend the scheduled talks with the government.

In his statement, Mann said he was thankful to the Supreme Court for nominating him to the committee to start a dialogue with unions on the laws. However, as a farmer leader and union leader, “in view of the prevailing sentiments and apprehensions amongst the farm unions and public in general, I am ready to sacrifice any position offered or given to me so as to not compromise the interests of Punjab and farmers in the country, I am recusing myself from the committee and I will always stand with my farmers and Punjab,” Mann said after the union he headed also distanced itself from him.

After being selected by the SC, he had urged everyone to put forward their views before the panel.

Union leaders claimed others on the panel will “also resign soon”.

Rajewal said efforts were being made to malign the agitation through ‘dushprachar’ (false propaganda). “The whole world is watching. This is not just a farmers’ movement. It has become a mass movement across the country. A movement is successful only when it is completely peaceful, if there is violence it collapses.

“Misconceptions/false inflammatory propaganda are being spread about the 26 January movement. Some people are saying that the national flag should be hoisted at the Red Fort, some are saying the Parliament will be stormed,” he said, accusing “anti-farmer forces and government agencies” of trying to malign and scuttle the peaceful agitation of farmers and common people. Urging everyone to maintain peace and calm, he told the farmers that the tractor march will be “from” Delhi borders. The exact outline of the programme for January 26 will be given after tomorrow’s meeting.

Also read:

Tractor march from Delhi borders on January 26 to be peaceful, says Rajewal

If govts can last 5 years, so can farmers’ protest, says BKU leader Tikait

Protesting farmer unions welcome Bhupinder Singh Mann’s decision, but say will not accept any committee

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