Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 28
Raising fresh hopes of a truce, protesting farmers on Monday accepted the Centre’s invitation for the sixth round of talks on Wednesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the government would “keep marching on the path of strengthening Indian agriculture”.
Farmers responded positively to the Centre’s invitation to 40 unions, which have been leading month-long protests on Delhi borders to seek the repeal of three farm laws. The invitation followed a missive from the unions proposing a December 29 meeting.
The farmers, in positive signs, called off their previously planned tractor march from Singhu and Tikri borders to the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Highway.
The developments came on a day when activist Anna Hazare threatened a protest, which he called “his last”, for the farmers if the Centre failed to address their concerns by January-end.
The Centre’s invitation, sent through Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal, remains silent on the principal demand of the protesters — discussion on modalities to repeal the contentious farm legislations. The unions, in their last proposal to the Centre, had mentioned this as their first demand.
In its invitation sent to the farmers, the government said it was “committed to finding a logical solution to all relevant issues with a clear intention and an open mind.” Aggarwal said discussions would be held on the farm legislations, MSP, The Electricity Amendment Act and the ordinance to tackle air pollution in and around Delhi and NCR.
The Centre’s invitation is for 2 pm talks on December 30. The last time the two sides met was on December 5 with farm unions demanding a “yes” or “no” answer to the demand of rescinding the laws. The meeting had ended inconclusively.
Ahead of the fresh talks, the government today signalled its firmness for reforms with PM Narendra Modi, speaking during the launch of a Kisan Rail project, noting, “The participation and support of the rural people, farmers and youth makes government’s efforts successful. Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and cooperative groups get priority in agri-business and agri-infrastructure. Recent reforms will lead to expansion of agri-business and these groups will be the biggest beneficiaries. Private investment in agriculture will support the government’s effort to help these groups. We will keep on marching on the path of strengthening Indian agriculture and ‘kisan’ (farmers) with full dedication.” At another event, Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar said the “wall of lies built against the farm laws among farmers in a planned way would collapse and the agitators will soon see the truth”. The past five rounds of talks yielded no results with the unions stuck on repeal of laws and the Centre adamant on a middle ground through amendments, including a written assurance on the MSP system. The farmers’ unions in their December 26 communication to the Centre offering to talk on December 29 had sought discussions on “modalities for repealing the three farm laws; mechanism to make remunerative MSP a legally guaranteed entitlement; amendments to the air quality ordinance to exclude farmers from penal provisions and changes in the draft power Bill to protect farmers’ interests”.
Expressway march off
New Delhi: The farmers’ unions, in a positive signal, have called off their previously planned tractor march from Singhu and Tikri borders to the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal expressway on December 30.
FIR against Tikait
Palwal: The police have booked Rakesh Tikait, a farmer leader from UP, over his recent statement. He had allegedly said temples and priests were not giving enough support to the farmers’ agitation.
Capt warns vandals
Chandigarh: CM Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday issued a warning against vandalisation of mobile towers. He directed the police to take action against those resorting to such unlawful activities.