Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 6
While unions/ ‘jathebandis’ and government are working hard to keep alive the communication channels, after the January 4 meeting it is more or less clear the government has ceded all it intends to persuade farmers to end the agitation.
As farmers, braving adverse weather conditions, draw elaborate plans for the month for Lohri, January 23—Netaji Subhas Chander Bose’s birth anniversary—and Janaury 26, it seems the government, too, is prepared for a long haul.
Ahead of the January 8 talks with farmers (eighth if the meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah is discounted), top sources say the government has already relented on the proposed Power Act, the Ordinance on stubble pollution and offered amendments to the three Acts and this is about as far it is willing to go on the issue.
“Otherwise, they (farmers) should tell us something new, we are ready to discuss the three Acts threadbare, clause by clause,” they say.
Given the kind of support/traction the agitation has received from common people, the matter has moved out of the hands of union’ leaders for any resolution on a middle path now, this too farmer and government negotiators know well.
“It is now a people’s movement,” says a union leader.
Besides, as Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has pointed on many occasions, it is the matter of the entire country and not just Punjab and Haryana.
“Politically it is the question of 23 seats in the 545-member Lok Sabha (of Punjab and Haryana),” they say.
The small and marginal farmers comprise close to 85 per cent in the country. Moreover, if the government relents any further, it will only end up opening prospects of more such protests.
The government, “which has visibly toned down/softened on agitators and the agitation”, seems to have offered a “joint committee on MSP”, which unions rejected, sticking to their demand for a legal framework to ensure minimum support price.
It is not just the three laws, farmers have also junked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim of implementing recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission and are demanding a guaranteed MSP on 23 crops so that they can “diversify” from paddy and wheat.