At least 10 organisations representing farmers’ of several states met Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday and extended their support to the contentious farm laws, even as thousands of others intensified their nationwide pushback against the legislations, reported ANI.
The delegation comprising farmers from Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Bihar and Haryana, were associated with the All India Kisan Coordination Committee.
In a memorandum submitted to Tomar, the group claimed that “some elements” of the farmers’ community, especially in Delhi, were trying to create misunderstandings about the new reforms, which propose to overhaul the way farmers do business in the country.
“The dawn of freedom that is visible after our untiring efforts and long struggle, some elements are trying to create misunderstanding among farmers to turn it into dark night,” the memorandum stated. “To fulfil our responsibility towards crores of farmers of the country, we have come from different parts of the country to meet you. We have come here to show that farmers from different parts of the country are supporting these laws.”
The group said it has been an “unhappy victim” of the old market system. “We do not want that the same system of exploitation is imposed on farmers under any condition,” it said.
The new farm laws, among other things, allows farmers to sell outside mandis notified by the Agricultural Produce Market Committee, essentially eliminating agents who act as middlemen between the farmers and the government-regulated wholesale markets. A majority of farmers protesting against the legislations are against this, as they feel these agents are essential to the agricultural economy and are their main source of credit.
The memorandum urged the Narendra Modi government not to withdraw the three laws under the pressure of farmers’ agitation in some parts of the country. “Because, if it happens, farmers from different parts of the country will be bound to come on the streets for their rights,” it said.
The group of organisations also recommended that the government should spread awareness about farm laws through public campaigns, and should focus on “introducing new-age technology” in the agriculture sector.
Union minister Tomar said after the meeting that members of All India Kisan Coordination Committee have submitted a letter detailing their demands . “They said that the [Narendra] Modi government has done this for the welfare of farmers and they welcome and support it,” he said.
Asked about the meeting with the leaders of protesting farmers, Tomar said the government is unconditionally ready to negotiate with them.
“We have said that we are ready for the talks,” he added. “The government will definitely do it if their [farmer unions’] proposal comes.We want the discussions to be held clause by clause. They will give their opinion on our proposal, we will definitely hold further talks.”
On December 9, the leaders of farmer unions had rejected the Centre’s written proposal on the amendments to the three laws, saying they would accept nothing short of a complete rollback of the policies.
The meeting between the farmers supporting the legislations and Tomar came on the day when thousands of farmers, who have been camping in the outskirts of Delhi, went on a day-long hunger strike to mark their discontent.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have hunkered down at key entry points to Delhi for 19 days, saying they won’t leave till the government abolishes what they call the “black laws”. The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.
However, internal conflicts have emerged. It started on December 8, when representatives of three groups, which claimed to cumulatively represent 1,20,000 farmers of Haryana, accepted the newly passed agricultural laws, provided certain sections of the legislations to be amended – something the government has said it was willing to do.
On Sunday, a delegation of more than 100 farmers from Uttarakhand had also extended their support to the laws, reported the Hindustan Times. Last week, farmers representing Har Kisan, an organisation of 116 farmer-owned agricultural enterprises known as farmer producer organisations, too, told the agriculture minister that they want the laws to remain in force.