Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 7
Top central ministers have said they are always open for any talks with Punjab farmers on the three “pro-farmers and pro-agriculture” laws enacted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Centre. “The government’s doors are always open to farmers for any discussion on the three Central Acts,” Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said in an informal interaction.
The proviso appears to be that the discussion should be about farmers and not guided by politics. The three Acts that have resulted in a prolonged stand-off between Punjab farmers and the state government led by Congress’ Amarinder Singh and the BJP-led NDA at the Centre.
On October 15, farmers’ organisations had walked out of a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal claiming they were called for an interaction where not even one minister was present. Agriculture Ministry officials however said the meeting was scheduled to be held at the “level of the Secretary about which farmers were well aware”.
“Various issues related to farmers welfare were discussed for about two hours. At the end of this meeting two memorandums on behalf of the farmers’ unions were given to the Secretary. The Government of India is always committed to protect the interest of farmers and is always open for discussions,” they said.
Apparently, the Centre does not appear to be much worried by farmers organisations’s efforts to expand the ambit of protests to other states with a ‘Dilli chalo’ call later this month.
Citing the “outcome” of the all-India ‘chakka jam’ (road blockade) on November 5, ministry officials say the agitation is limited to Punjab because of “political reasons and that farmers across the country are well aware of the positive changes the three laws are bringing in their lives and the agriculture sector”.