Amid deadlock, protesting farmers propose next round of talks on Dec 29

The government must not indulge in misinformation about previous meetings, the Morcha has told the agriculture ministry

farmers protest
Farm leaders are wary of an aggressive campaign, fearing law-and-order problems. Violence may cost them the sympathy they now enjoys, they feel. File photo

The protesting farmer unions have proposed to have their next round of dialogue with the central government on December 29 to resolve the deadlock over the three farm laws that they believe are in favour of the corporates and would end minimum support price system.

This was decided at a meeting of Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 different farmer unions protesting at various Delhi borders, and the decision came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed those with political agenda for the deadlock in the talks.

The Morcha has written to Vivek Aggarwal, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, saying, “We propose that the next meeting between the farmers’ representatives and the Government of India be held on December 29 2020 at 11 am.”

Meanwhile, the BJP lost an ally in Rajasthan as NDA constituent Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) convenor Hanuman Beniwal on Saturday announced a split over the new farm laws.
“I’m not stuck with Fevicol with the NDA. Today, I separate myself from the NDA,” he said.

Related news | Protesting farmers’ unions to meet a day after PM Modi’s appeal

Regarding the upcoming talks, farmer leaders have made it clear that the modalities for the repeal of three farm laws and guarantee for minimum support price (MSP) — at which crops are procured from farmers — should be part of the agenda for resuming discussions.

At Saturday’s meeting, it was also decided that the farmers will hold a tractor march on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) highway on December 30 in protest against the laws, farmer leader Darshan Pal said. Another leader said the farmers will march from Singhu to Tikri to KMP and “If the government doesn’t want us to block the KMP highway, then they better announce the repeal of the three farm laws.”

Earlier this week, Aggarwal had written to the 40 protesting unions and invited them for fresh talks, but made it clear that it would not be “logical” to include in the agenda any new demand related to the MSP, which is out of the purview of the three new farm laws.

On this, the Morcha said in its letter, “Unfortunately, your (Aggarwal’s) letter continues the government’s attempt to mislead the public by suppressing true facts about the deliberations in the previous meetings. We have consistently demanded the repeal of the three Central Farm Acts, whereas the government has distorted our position as if we were asking for amendments to these Acts.”

“If you are sincere about respectfully listening to the farmers, as you say in your letter, the government must not indulge in misinformation about the previous meetings. The campaign launched by the entire state machinery to defame and malign the farmers’ movement must stop forthwith,” the Sankyukta Kisan Morcha further said in its letter.

Related news | Farm law protests: Fear of rout, farmers’ wrath divide Haryana NDA leaders

Thousands of farmers have been camping at three Delhi border points — Singhu, Tikri and Ghazipur — for nearly a month, demanding repeal of three agri laws enacted in September and a legal guarantee on minimum support price.

On Wednesday, the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, had asked the government to not repeat the proposal of “meaningless” amendments that they have already rejected but to come up with a “concrete offer” in writing for the resumption of talks.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday squarely blamed those with a political agenda for the deadlock in the Centre’s talks with the protesting farmers and asserted that his government was willing to hold dialogues with all, including those staunchly opposed to it, as long as talks are based on farm issues, facts and logic.

Enacted in September, the three farm laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove the middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce 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 the MSP and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

(With inputs from agencies)