Stalemate persists as farmers reject Centre’s proposal

Unions got legal advice that Centre has no power to stay or suspend a law passed by Parliament, says AIKS

In a tense start to the 11th round of talks on Friday, Central Ministers expressed their unhappiness that the unions first told the media about their decision to reject the proposal to suspend the three farm laws, instead of first informing the government directly.

According to several union leaders and government sources, the Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar then asked the unions to reconsider their decision and discuss it again among themselves. The unions met separately, and again decided to stick to their stance. The meeting then took a lunch break.

Also read: Farmers’ protests | Unions reject government proposal to suspend laws for 18 months

During the last round of talks on Wednesday, the Centre had offered to stay the implementation of the three laws for up to 18 months, and set up a joint committee to continue dialogue with farmers on the fate of the laws.

One of the reasons that farm unions decided to reject the government’s proposal is that they received legal advice that the Central Government has no power to stay or suspend a law passed by the Parliament, according to All India Kisan Sabha leader P. Krishnaprasad.

Also read: Farmers protest | SC panel to meet State govts, farm unions from Jan 21

Lawyers told the AIKS that the government can ask the Supreme Court to stay the implementation of a law, or they can take the laws back to Parliament and get a repeal law enacted. Only the Parliament can either amend or repeal a law. Hence, the legal advice received is that the proposal of Government to suspend the law for 18 months has no legal validity, siad Mr. Krishnaprasad.

Nevertheless, a number of Punjab unions argued that it would be better not to reject the Centre’s proposal outright during their internal meeting on Thursday. One leader said the final vote among the Punjab unions was a close 17-15 in favour of rejecting the proposal. Some leaders felt the unions should be willing to compromise in response to the Central government’s concession. However, others noted that any sign of compromise be seen as a betrayal by the tens of thousands of protestors gathered at Delhi’s borders for the last two months, who are demanding a repeal of the three laws.

Also read: Farmers’ protest | Give up stubborn stand and come for clause by clause discussion on January 19: Tomar to protesting farmer unions

Even among the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee, which decided unanimously to reject the proposal, some leaders warned that the farmers must decide at what point to end the protest, as it could not go on indefinitely. A strategy meeting is expected on Friday evening to plan the roadmap for the agitation beyond January 26, so that momentum is not lost after Republic Day.

The wider Samyukt Kisan Morcha meeting on Thursday night was chaired by Swaraj India president Yogendra Yadav and decided to reject the proposal without much dissent.

However, the SKM general body then spent several tense hours discussing the clash between Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh leader Shiv Kumar Kakkaji Sharma and Haryana leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni who heads a faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union. Mr. Sharma, who had previous links with the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh had accused Mr. Chaduni of taking money from a political party. The issue will now be referred to a sub committee, said one leader.

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