Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 3
To say that Thursday’s meeting was a complete washout will be incorrect. There appeared to be some movement forward even though the deadlock remains.
The BJP-led Centre appeared to soften stance, agreeing to some amendments and also conceding to some points raised by farmers’ leaders.
Though farmer leaders, who remained firm on their stated stance of repealing the five contentious laws – the three farm Acts, Air Ordinance and power legislation – said they would decide whether to attend the next meeting on December 5 after consultations on Friday.
“We will decide tomorrow whether or not to attend the meeting on December 5,” farmer leader Jagmohan Singh told The Tribune.
Farmers, who refused to even have “sarkari khana and chai” during the marathon seven-hour plus meeting at the Vigyan Bhawan, are also demanding guaranteed MSP for all the 23 crops across the country.
After the meeting, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the fourth round of talks concluded in a “very positive atmosphere”, adding that there was “no ego involved” and the government had agreed to “discuss and consider with an open mind” all major points of concern of farmers about the three new laws.
The Centre is also open to have a discussion on strengthening the APMC (Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee) ‘mandi’ system, tax parity with proposed private mandis and freedom for farmers to approach higher courts for any dispute resolution.
“We have always said we are with farmers. We will hold discussions on how to make the APMC stronger…farmers’ concerns over the SDM courts will also be addressed…We are also ready to discuss Air Ordinance and Power Act,” said Tomar.
The minister also reiterated that there would be no tinkering with the MSP. Regarding the demand that the Acts be taken back, Tomar just said that decision would be in “favour of farmers”.
Farmer unions said the government made some offer, which they would now discuss. “They want amendments but we want the Acts repealed. Besides, they have only given assurance (on amendments),” said Madhya Pradesh farmer leader Shiv Kumar ‘Kakkaji’.
Kavitha Kuruganti of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch said unions rejected the government’s proposal of amending the three Acts.
“The government gave some proposals, they are willing to equalise the market in terms of fees, registration requirements, etc., and re-consider the SDM court mechanism in place of regular civil court. There was dialogue on each and every provision in the Bills, their Constitutionality. However, it is not clear what the government wants as they had put on the table only amendments. We will discuss the points at the meeting tomorrow,” said Kavitha Kuruganti.
BKU (Ekta-Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh also rejected any discussion about concessions like temporary postponement of implementation of farm laws.
“We want these five laws to be repealed with immediate effect and nothing less than that is acceptable…we are not going to leave the protest site whatever tactics the government uses,” he said.
And like in the last meeting, farmer unions refused to have “sarkari khana or chai” in Vigyan Bhawan and had the langar brought from the protest site. Normally during official meetings at Vigyan Bhawan, tea, snacks, lunch, etc., are served to participants.
Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Som Praksah were also present at the meeting.