Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 10
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday said the government has given a written proposal to farmers on their concerns on the three Central Farm Acts and two other laws. “Whenever you are ready, the government is always ready for talks,” agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said reaching out to farmers who yesterday decided to harden stance after the Centre’s nine proposals in writing.
Listing out all the pro-farmer and agriculture measures taken by the Narendra Modi government, he said the constant attempt has been to make agriculture and villages ‘atmanirbhar’ (self-reliant). “Till the time villages and agriculture are made self-reliant the country cannot be made self-reliant.”
“Farmers were not forthcoming on specific issues and were sticking to demand of rolling back the Acts…we tried to cull out their concerns and addressed them. We have given proposals to allay their misgivings. I will request them to come forward for talks,” Tomar and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal said.
“Despite giving an answer to all their issues, still they are not ready to reach to any conclusion. We are pained and worried. We will request them again that the government had given you a written assurance and whenever you want a discussion on the issue the government is always ready,” the two ministers said.
Acts were made after due consideration to benefit farmers, say ministers
Regarding whether the government is willing to consider farmers’ main demand of repealing the three Acts, the ministers said that farm laws were formulated after due consideration and to benefit farmers and the sector.
“The government is committed to farmers of India, doubling their income,” Goyal said urging unions’ leaders to come forth for talks and allow farmers to go back home.
“Results from Rajasthan have shown that farmers have complete faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” he said.
Regarding the demand for a separate law on MSP, Tomar said the provision has nothing to do with these Acts. “Prime Minister and I have repeatedly assured the farmers that MSP will remain.”
On whether the government is ready to consider the main demand of repealing the three Acts, the ministers said farm laws had been formulated after due consideration and to benefit the farmers. “No law can be completely wrong. The government wants to stress that on any part farmers have issues we are ready to discuss.”
“Please read the Acts and decide for yourself. The government has no doubt that the Acts are for the benefit of farmers. We have taken due care and consideration on how to benefit the farmers and then brought the laws. We are only trying to benefit the farmers,” Tomar said.
On till when the government is ready to wait for farmers to agree to a meeting, Tomar said, “We have given a proposal to farmers on the identified issues. The government has done its part. I will again urge farmers that if they want more discussions we are ready for talks.”
We all know who are behind the agitation, he added.
“Several rounds were held and we told them we will give our written reply. If they are still unconvinced we can hold more discussions. We have asked them to leave the path of agitation. When the dialogue is on it is not correct to announce further programme for agitation. I would again ask them to take back the agitation and come back on discussion table.”
“I am hopeful there will be a way. There are many farmers who believe there are benefits from law, Rajasthan elections are living testimony to that. The laws should continue for benefit of farmers.” Tomar said when the government brought the three Acts related to reforms in farm sector in Parliament in the last session, all parties expressed their views on them. “In Rajya Sabha when there was time for my reply the Opposition’s behaviour will be remembered as a blot,”
According to the Agriculture Minister, “The laws have been implemented in the country. We had been trying to bring reforms in agriculture sector. Earlier the possibility of private investment reaching the villages was less. We want to increase investments in the sector and under PM Modi a lot of work has been done.”
“If you recall there used to be extreme shortage of urea….there were also incidents of its black marketing and urea was stolen from trucks. Many steps were taken in the past six years for progress in the agriculture sector for which several recommendations were made.
“When these laws were brought the aim was that the farmers get the freedom to sell outside ‘mandis’ without tax, who can have any objection to that?
“We thought that farmers will take benefit, make use of new technology, get attracted to new crops with all necessary legal safeguards regarding their land and other interests.
“The laws were welcomed throughout the country. However, some farmers and unions voiced objections which we tried to address. However, even while dialogue was going on with Punjab farmers, unions announced agitation on November 26 and 27.
“We decided to advance the scheduled conference from December 3 to December 1. Meetings were also held on December 5 and December 8 and after they did not give any solutions except repealing the Acts, we identified issues and gave them our proposals.
“We also reasoned with them that the government has the right to make law on trade and that APMC will not get affected by the laws. We repeatedly told them they will benefit if no tax is charged, but still told them that states will be allowed to tax private ‘mandis’ if they want.
“We tried to make things simpler for them therefore decided on SDM courts, despite that we said we are ready to make amendments allay any other fears related to land, etc.
“Regarding MSP repeated assurances were given to farmers, including by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, despite that we made it clear that we are also ready to give a written assurance. Similarly on Power Act and air ordinance,” they said.