Ahead of talks with the government, Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) leaders have said that even though several farmer outfits have extended their support to the “Delhi march”, all decisions regarding the protest will be decided by the original group who is leading the agitation.

“We thank all the organisations who have supported our call to march to Delhi to get the demands accepted by the government. However, any decision with regard to the current protest will be taken only by the SKM (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee,” farmer leader Abhimanyu Kohar told businessline. He also said that SKM (Non-Political) would take a call if any farmer outfit requests them to join the common platform.

In Rajasthan, Kisan Mahapanchayat, led by Rampal Jat, has decided to take out a tractor march from Ajmer to Delhi via Jaipur on February 21 in support of the demand for legal guarantee of MSP. It alleged that despite several announcements, latest one by Union Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, the Centre has failed to ensure MSP for mustard.

Currently, farmers are selling freshly harvested mustard in Rajasthan at ₹4,200/quintal against its MSP of ₹5,650/quintal, lower by more than 25 per cent, Jat said. According to Agmarknet portal, Baran mandi in Rajasthan, which reported highest arrival of 1,810 tonnes in past week in the State, has seen the average (modal) price at around ₹4,500/quintal on February 17.

Western Uttar Pradesh-based BKU had a general body meeting on Saturday in its headquarters Sisauli (Muzaffaranagar) where it decided that farmers would stage dharnas in UP, Haryana, Punjab and Uttarakhand on February 21 to press for the legal guarantee of MSP. BKU spokesman Rakesh Tikait said that a resolution was passed during the meeting asking the SKM (which is another body) to launch a tractor march to Delhi in the last week of February if the government does not accept farmers’ demands.

Two unions in Punjab – Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) and BKU Dakaunda (Dhaner) – who are not part of the current “Delhi march” protest, have already announced their support to the protest. The Gurnam Singh Charuni-led BKU, which is based in Haryana, took out tractor marches at Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar, Sirsa and some other places in support of the current agitation.

After nearly five hours of talks on Thursday night between union ministers and farmer leaders, both agreed to meet again on Sunday to hammer out some solutions to the demands raised and farmers have assured that they will not try to proceed to Delhi till the next round of discussions.

Farmers’ demands

During the talks with the farmers Agriculture Minister Arjun Munda, Commerce and Food Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai represented the Centre, while Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was also present. Samyukt Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) leaders Kohar, Shiv Kumar Kakka and Jagjit Singh Dallewal, and Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher among others represented the farmers’ unions.

Farmers have been demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendation of fixing the minimum support prices (MSPs) at 50 per cent over and above C2 costs of production and a law to guarantee purchase of crops at MSP. Other demands include unconditional pension for farmers above 60 years of age and farmers should be made completely debt-free

Farmer leaders had said that the government looked non-serious about main three issues – legal guarantee of MSP, fixation of MSP on C2 formula and debt waiver, and has been buying time till the announcement of the poll schedule.