Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 14
The government is engaging with farmer leaders to decide on the next date of talks, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said, as unions intensified their agitation against the Centre’s three farm laws and observed a day-long fast on Monday.
“The meeting will definitely happen. We are engaging with farmers,” Tomar told PTI.
The government is ready for discussion anytime. The farmer leaders have to “decide and convey” when they are ready for the next meeting, he added.
He also said in tweets posted on Monday evening that he had a meeting with members of the All India Farmers Coordination Committee, who told him that the protests against the three laws were “politically motivated”—an allegation that leaders from his own party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, have repeated several times in the past to counter the escalating protests.
Tomar said in two tweets: “Members of All India Farmers Coordination Committee from across the country met me today at Krishi Bhavan and submitted a memorandum in support of the new agricultural laws”.
“They said that these laws are completely in the interest of farmers and should not be withdrawn at any cost. They said that protests by the farmers of Punjab are politically motivated,” the tweet said.
Tomar is leading the negotiations with 40 farmer unions, along with Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industries Som Parkash.
Previous five rounds of talks between the Centre and 40 farmer unions’ leaders have remained inconclusive.
The government has sent a draft proposal along with written assurance of continuing the minimum support price (MSP) system to them for consideration, but farmer unions have rejected it and demanded repeal of the laws.
These laws are meant for transforming the lives of farmers, Tomar said, adding that the government policy and its intention behind these laws are clear.
“We tried to convince farmers and farmer unions leaders. Our wish is that they come for clause-by-clause discussion. If they are ready to express their views clause by clause, we are ready for discussion,” he said.
— Narendra Singh Tomar (@nstomar) December 14, 2020
Tomar also indicated that the government will not repeal the laws.
Earlier in the day, Tomar met Home Minister Amit Shah and discussed about the way forward to end the deadlock.
Later, the agriculture minister also met a delegation of farmers led by the All India Kisan Coordination Committee (AIKCC) which extended support to the farm laws. This is the fourth group of farmers who have extended support to the laws in last two weeks.
Farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at Delhi borders against the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.
The farmers protesting at Delhi’s borders observed a day-long fast on Monday even as the agitation spread to different parts of the country with peasant unions staging demonstrations at district headquarters.
Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the central government as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of Minimum Support Price and do away with the mandis, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates. With PTI