Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 14
Amidst intensifying protests by farmers on the three central farm laws, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Prakash on Sunday met Home Minister Amit Shah regarding the issue.
BJP leaders from Punjab were also present at the meeting where the home minister is also believed to have discussed the “ground situation in Punjab” in the wake of members of the Khalistani separatists desecrating the statue of Mahatma Gandhi during a protest organised by Sikh-American youths in the US and allegations of “Khalistan, Ultra-Left and pro-Left Wing extremist elements hijacking the farmers’ movement” — charges that farmers’ unions and ‘jathebandis’ reject vehemently.
The unions at the Singhu border also washed their hands off VM Singh of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh, who yesterday said farmers are ready for talks with the Centre.
Meanwhile, Union minister from Punjab, Som Prakash, said the government’s “doors are always open to farmers for discussions” and that it offered to amend the laws even though they are correct” in order to resolve the issue.
Following the meeting with the home minister, Som Prakash also said that several ‘jathebandis’ had agreed to the government’s offer of amendments in the December 3 meeting.
“We told them it is not possible to repeal the acts but they came back again saying the same thing that they want a complete rollback or nothing. It seems they are under some influence….Many leaders told us (ministers) that if the offer (of amendments) had been made earlier something could have been done. However, what will we (leaders) now tell those who have assembled at our call,” he said, adding that it seems the matter is “out of their (leaders) hands and some wrong elements have crept in the movement”.
“We are always ready for talks. They need to drop their ‘zid’ (obstinate/stubborn attitude) and come for discussions for the benefit of farmers, Punjab and the country. The entire government is trying hard to resolve the issue. If the government adopts an adamant attitude that too is wrong but here we have agreed for amendments even though we know that our laws are correct,” he said.
Meanwhile, unions, which elaborated their plan for tomorrow and rejected all the allegations of the movement being “hijacked” said they “want talks but demands of farmer organisations for repeal of three anti-farmer acts and legal guarantee of minimum support price is non-negotiable.
“Any attempt to hold parallel negotiations with the government amounts to sabotaging the historic movement,” they said, adding that they are taking due care to guard the movement against outsiders”.