Policy

Farmers-Govt talk: Stalemate continues over repealing of agri laws

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 04, 2021

Farmers’ representatives in talks with the Centre over the new farm laws, at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Monday   -  PTI

The farmers agree to return for talks on January 8

It was back to the stalemate in the seventh round of farmers-Centre dialogue on Monday with both sides unwilling to cede ground on the core issue of repealing the three farm laws.

The Government hinted at a statutory backing for MSP for crops. The farmers agreed to return for talks on January 8 while simultaneously indicating an escalation in the ongoing agitation despite the severe winter and rain hitting parts of Delhi and surrounding areas. The Haryana police fired tear gas shells on farmers marching into Delhi from the Shahjahanpur border on the eve of the talks and the farmers responded by threatening intensification of the agitation.

 

Emerging from the almost four-hour-long deliberations, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said the talks were inconclusive because the farmers refused to budge from their demand to repeal the three laws. “We will sit again at 2 pm on January 8. The dialogue was conducted in good spirits, but we could not reach any conclusion because the farmers have stuck to the demand to repeal the laws… They want us to find a way out of this, and they want to end the agitation,” said the Agriculture Minister.

 

The Minister, however, subtly asserted the Government’s position that only the stakeholders in Punjab and Haryana are unhappy with the farm laws and are protesting while farmers in other States support the laws. “When the Government decides on the laws, it has to consider all the farmers in every part of the country,” the Minister added.

On minimum support price

According to the farmers, they had no other agenda except for the repeal of the laws. Hannan Mollah of the All India Kisan Sabha said that the MSP issue would be discussed only after the Government indicates its stance on the farm laws.

 

“We have stated our position very firmly. We have no other agenda except the repeal the laws. Our protest programmes will continue, the District Collectors will be gheraoed (surrounded) in the days to come. Let the Government give an assurance on farm laws, over 400 organisations of the farmers are waiting,” said Mollah.

The Working Group of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (AIKSCC) alleged that the Government had used the strategy of “tiring out” the protestors with endless dialogue while simultaneously unleashing police repression on them. The AIKSCC said it expected the Government to escalate repression.

“Severe repression has been let loose on the protesting farmers. This will escalate the anger among people and intensify the movement. Yesterday, farmers who had advanced towards Delhi from Shahjahanpur in a peaceful manner were physically obstructed and later tear-gassed in Rewari along with a spray of chillies. This has left several farmers with burning eyes and skin irritation,” said the AIKSCC statement.

“In Punjab, the Congress govt used severe baton charge on KKU activists protesting against the BJP MP in District Sangrur. In Madhya Pradesh and UP the State governments prevent democratic and peaceful protests, using section 144 undemocratically and illegally to ban assembly,” the statement added.

The farmers want the Government to repeal three farm laws passed in the monsoon session of Parliament – the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation Act, Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services. The last two laws pertain to removing stockholding limits on agricultural produce and creating a contract farming framework, respectively. The first law aims to create an option to sell directly to deregulated zones without going through middlemen and paying levies such as the mandi fees, a provision that the Government has sought to amend in its parleys with the farmers.

Published on January 04, 2021

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