Name for Bharat bandh on December 8

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 4

A day prior to the scheduled meeting with the Centre, farmers’ unions on Friday gave a call for a “Bharat bandh” on December 8. The agitating farmers will burn effigies of the Modi government and some corporate houses on Saturday even while talks between their representatives and Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar regarding the three contentious farm laws are underway.

The farm leaders have reportedly decided to sit through the meeting only if the Centre agrees to repeal the laws and guarantees MSP (minimum support price) for all 23 crops. The farmers also plan to gherao toll plazas. While the Modi government appears willing to make some amendments to the laws and give a written assurance on the MSP, it is unlikely to agree to a rollback. It remains to be seen how much the government is willing to concede to buy peace. The Modi government had in 2015 made a U-turn, agreeing to drop amendments to the Land Acquisition Act. 2013.

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Sources say ministers and officials are holding talks, including with those in the Law Ministry, to find a “middle path”. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the mandi system would not be weakened, adding: “We are making an honest attempt to placate the farmers and resolve the issue.”

The farm leaders say the government has only two options — to repeal the laws or use force against them. “It is time to take a decision. We need a guarantee on the MSP,” one of them said. Activists Yudhvir Singh, Harvinder Singh Lakhowal, Hannan Mollah and Buta Singh Shadipur made it clear that “minor” amendments would not work and neither would the government’s “divide and rule” policy.

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“The country’s top 10 trade federations have given us support, this is now a ‘jan andolan’. We do not go there for chai pe charcha,” remarked Yogendra Yadav. Regarding the security concerns raised by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, the leaders replied: “We don’t believe in violence.”

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