Farmer unions protesting against the agricultural laws on Saturday accepted the Narendra Modi government’s offer for talks to end the deadlock, ANI reported. Swaraj India national president Yogendra Yadav said the farmers proposed that the talks be held on December 29 at 11 am.
Five rounds of talks between the government and farmers have failed to yield any results and the protests have continued for a month now.
“The first two points in our agenda for talks are – modalities to repeal the three farm laws, and mechanism and procedure to bring law for providing a legal guarantee on Minimum Support Price,” Yadav said at a press conference.
The farmer leaders also conveyed their decision to resume talks in a letter to the Centre, NDTV reported. “You, in your letter, say the government wants to listen to farmers respectfully,” it added. “If you really want that then stop making misleading remarks regarding our demands and stop using the entire government system to spread negative publicity against the protesting farmers.”
Meanwhile, Darshan Pal, president of Krantikari Kisan Union, said farmers will hold a tractor march from Singhu border on December 30 to protest against the legislations. He added that toll plazas in Punjab and Haryana will be permanently open and there will be no disruptions.
“We request people from Delhi and other parts of country to come and celebrate New Year with protesting farmers,” Pal said.
This came two days after the Centre wrote to farmer unions, extending an invitation for talks and reiterated its commitment to a logical solution to all the concerns raised by the farmer groups. The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 farmer organisations, had however, termed the Centre’s letter as propaganda.
The protestors are yet to be convinced with the government’s assurance that the Minimum Support Price regime will not be done away with after the implementation of the new laws.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also reiterated the government’s offer for talks and accused the Opposition leaders of instigating the farmers. Speaking at a programme to release Rs 18,000 crore to nine crore beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, Modi said the political leaders rejected by the people through democratic process were not allowing discussion on the farm laws and were “firing from the shoulders” of the farmers.
The Bharatiya Janata Party held a massive outreach programme, with Union ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Narendra Singh Tomar also speaking about the legislations.
Farm laws protest
The negotiations between farmers’ groups and the Centre has not progressed since the last meeting, scheduled to be held on December 9, was cancelled. Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for 30 straight days against the laws now, withstanding temperatures dropping to two to three degrees Celsius.
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.
The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. The law passed in September are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.