Centre ready to talk with ‘open mind’, farmers stick to demand to repeal 3 laws


The deadlock between protesting farmers—mostly from Punjab and Haryana—and the Centre over new farm laws continued on Thursday despite a “written assurance” by the government over a series of amendments, including for minimum support price (MSP), one of the key demands.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Thursday also assured that a government-regulated agriculture market system will not be dismantled. Also, the government gave assurances on tax parity and the court process, the other demands.

“The government is ready to consider with an open mind any provision in the new laws where farmers have any issues and we want to clarify all their apprehensions,” assured Tomar.

Six rounds of talks have so far been held between the Centre and the farmer unions. The deadlock, however, still continues, with the kisan union being rigid on the farm laws to be repealed altogether.

“We want nothing less than withdrawal of new farm laws,” Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU-Rajewal) president Balbir Singh Rajewal told news agency IANS, adding: “If agriculture is a state subject, the Central government does not have right to make laws on it.”

The farmers said they will block railway tracks if their demands are not met and will announce the date soon. “We will block railway tracks if our demands are not met. We will decide on the date and announce it soon,” another farmer leader Boota Singh said.

Buta Singh Burjgill, president of the farmer organisation BKU Ekta Dakaunda, said that the farmers would stage a protest in front of the toll barriers on 12 December and two days later there will be protests in front of all Deputy Commissioners’ offices.

Meanwhile, with the protesting farmers rejecting the government’s proposals on the farm laws, the Opposition is planning to call a meeting of all political parties opposing the measures to devise a joint strategy to pressurise the government, sources said.

The Opposition has claimed to have support of 25 political parties but on Tuesday, the delegation to meet the President comprised of only five people—Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D. Raja and DMK’s T.K.S. Elangovan—while most of other opposition leaders were not in Delhi.

The opposition parties who have supported the farmers agitation include Congress, the NCP, Trinamool Congress, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Bahujan Samaj Party, Samjawadi Party, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party, National Conference, Rashtriya Lok Dal, Janata Dal-Secular, DMK, along with Left and other smaller parties.

The opposition delegation on Tuesday submitted a memorandum to the President which said: “We urge upon you, as the custodian of the Indian Constitution, to persuade your government not to be obdurate and accept the demands raised by Indian Annadatas.”

The delegation in the memorandum said that the Bills were passed in Parliament in an anti-democratic manner preventing a structured debate.