Government has ignored calls to repeal farm laws, says leaders.
The meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the response to the government’s offer of talks was postponed; a decision on the offer is now expected on Wednesday.
The letter by Agriculture Joint Secretary and CEO, PM-KISAN, Vivek Aggarwal seeking resumption of talks was discussed at the co-ordination committee of farmer unions from Punjab, but the meeting of the SKM was rescheduled due to time constraints.
Speaking at a press conference at the Singhu border, farmer leader Kulwant Singh Sandhu said the decision would be made on Wednesday. He added that the agitation would be further intensified and the unions would write to the Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom to persuade Prime Minister Boris Johnson to not to accept the invitation for the Republic Day.
The Working Group of All-India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee, in a statement, said the Agriculture Ministry’s letter showed that the government was disinterested in solving the demands of the farmers.
“The problem in the laws lies in their objectives where the corporates will have legal rights to engage farmers in contracts and to stock and black-market food…The Agriculture Minister has deliberately twisted facts on the talks and claimed modesty and open mindedness. The facts are that AIKSCC and all others have sent lakhs of representations for repeal which the government has ignored,” said the statement.
All-India Kisan Sabha finance secretary and former CPI (M) MLA P. Krishna Prasad said the government, and not the farmers, was responsible for the stalemate. He argued that Union Agriculture Minister Narendar Tomar and Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had, in a meeting on December 5, assured the farmer unions to discuss their demand for withdrawal of three laws with the Cabinet and get back to them on December 9, but Home Minister Amit Shah intervened to offer clause-by-clause discussion.
“The Home Minister has no role in the discussions since it was not a law and order problem. If what Mr. Shah said was the opinion of the Cabinet then why were the two ministers kept out of the meeting,” asked Mr. Prasad. He added that the government holding parallel discussions with the farmer organisations, which are not part of agitation, was “morally wrong” and a deliberate attempt to show that farmers unions were divided.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, in an interaction with the members of the International media from the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia, reiterated that agricultural reforms were in the interest of farmers and would bring about a new era in Indian agriculture. He added that government has had many rounds of talks with farmer unions and was willing to continue the dialogue on contentious issues, clause-by-clause, with an open mind.
The Minister reiterated that the reform laws was not an overnight decision but it had gone through more than two decades of deliberations, suggested by numerous experts and recommendations by varied committees and groups.
Regarding the Minimum Support Price, the Minister said that it was an administrative decision and would continue. He also held meetings with the representatives of “Kisan Sangharsh Samiti”, a Noida based farmers organisation, and “Indian Kisan Union” with both unions demanding that the laws should not be repealed.
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