Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 13
The meeting between Punjab farm unions and Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Parkash on the Centre’s recent farm laws ended inconclusively today. Speaking to the media after the marathon seven-hour meeting, the unions said their stir would continue and they would meet in Chandigarh on November 18 to decide the next course of action.
BKU leader Balbir Singh Rajewal said: “The representatives debated each and every point. When they (ministers) started speaking about the merits of the Acts, how beneficial they were for the farmers, we told them that it was time that they listened to us.” BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) president JS Ugrahan said they told the ministers that the government’s promise of doubling farm income was meaningless as the new laws would result in the farmers “losing their land to big corporate houses.” The farmers accused the Centre of an economic blockade, claiming that goods trains were stalled even when they had vacated the tracks.
Ugrahan said the Centre proposed to form a committee to discuss their demands on the condition that passenger trains in Punjab were allowed to run. “They (ministers) mentioned another meeting by November 21, but nothing was finalised,” he added.
However, the farmers representatives said that unlike the last time, this meeting was held in “positive atmosphere”.
Punjab BJP leaders claimed a breakthrough with “both sides agreeing to continue the dialogue”. The farm leaders said they would stick to their ‘Dilli Chalo’ programme.
“If we are not allowed to enter Delhi, we will gherao the Capital on November 26-27,” they said, demanding a rollback of the ordinance to set up a commission to monitor Delhi’s air quality and withdrawal of cases against farmers for burning stubble.
Union Agriculture Minister Tomar said: “The Government of India is committed to protecting the interest of farmers and is open to discussions.”