Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 2
As agitating farmers hardened stance, demanding a special Parliament session and warning of a countrywide protest on December 5, all eyes are on the next round of their meeting with Union ministers on the three contentious farm Acts on Thursday.
While Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar again spoke on merits of the three laws and hoped for an early solution through talks, farmers appeared to find support from the RSS, the ruling BJP’s ideological fountainhead.
Sangh-affiliate Swadesh Jagran Manch (SJM) said farmers needed “assurance on price”, “an alternate ATM mechanism” if middlemen/arthiyas were to be removed and a “better redressal system” for disputes.
Talking to The Tribune Ashwani Mahajan of the SJM said while the three laws were “good” and “intentions of the government cannot be questioned”, “any good thing also has scope for further improvement”.
“Earlier ‘arthiyas’ used to form cartels, now big players can do the same. Farmers need assurance on MSP, either through amendment in the existing Acts or a new law,” he said.
Regarding the government’s argument that MSP was never a part of the legal system, Mahajan said even the three Acts were not part of the legal system.
“It needs to be made obligatory for buyers to pay the floor price, which can be the cost of production plus more. Farmers are the weaker lot, the government can fix the floor price of crops, make it a legal provision either through amendment or separate law.
“Besides, the dispute settlement also needs to be improved. SDM courts may not be in reach of ordinary farmers and there should be farmers’ courts on lines of consumer courts. Farmers should be assured of income right from the time of sowing. Why should they wait for harvesting?” Mahajan asked.
“Arthiyas are something like an ATM machine, the new players have to behave like ATMs. There should be a provision for giving money to farmers in installments right from the beginning. What farmers need is assurance of a payment mechanism similar to that in the ‘arthiyas’ system,” he added.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Tomar who apprised Home Minister Amit Shah of Tuesday’s “inconclusive meeting”, said he was hopeful of a breakthrough via talks.
During the deliberations, the ministers are believed to have discussed the issues raised by farmers and how the government could dispel the concerns and break the deadlock.
Sources indicate the possibility of an official group of ministers/committee, “some middle path” which may be agreeable to farmers Unions, who rejected any middle path and demanded complete roll-back and also accused the government of “trying to divide farmers”.
“The BKU (Tikait) and all unions across the country are with us,” said Darshan Pal, president of the Krantikari Kisan Union, as he called for special session of Parliament to repeal the new farm laws and threatened to block major roads of the National Capital if their demands were not met.
“If government does not fulfill our demands, we will have to take harder steps, it is ‘aar-paar ki ladai’ (do or die),” said Gurnam Singh Charuni while announcing December 5 as the day when they will burn effigies of corporates.
“The government should think this as warning bell. Other countries like Canada are showing solidarity. The protests have started in other parts of the country and the government should ensure that there is no further ‘badnami’ of the country,” said Shiv Kumar ‘Kakkaji’ on a day the agitation against the three Central laws entered the seventh day.
With vehicular movement already blocked at Singhu and Tikri borders, farmers also gathered at the Chilla border between Delhi and Noida.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal claimed that the BJP-ruled Centre was angry with him for not permitting stadiums to be used as temporary jails for farmers protesting against the farm laws. He also hit out at Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, accusing him of speaking “BJP’s language”.