The Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal on Wednesday told farmers protesting against the agricultural laws that they should hold direct talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to get the legislations repealed. The sixth round of talks between the farmer leaders and the Centre is underway at Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi.
Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal urged the farmers not to fall into the trap of “extended meetings which yield nothing”. “The largest peaceful agitation of farmers has won India’s heart and become example for world,” she said in a tweet. “Our farmers are on the cusp of victory. I appeal to them – hold direct talks with PM [the prime minister] to get these agri laws repealed.”
Badal urged Modi to not prolong the suffering of farmers camping out near Delhi, while enduring the bitter winter sweeping northern India. “This [the protest] could’ve been averted if you had listened to my requests of June 3,5 and Sept [September] 14 warning you about repercussions of passing hated laws,” she added.
Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar also said that it was necessary for the prime minister to be a part of the dialogue with the farmers. “After Amit Shah’s intervention failing to resolve the issue, next level of talks should have been with PM,” he tweeted. “Strangely these have been downgraded to previous levels. For talks to be successful, involvement PM or HM [home minister] is a must. Otherwise it’s a futile exercise.”
Haryana Congress leader Selja Kumari, meanwhile, demanded that Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar lead a delegation to meet the prime minister and inform him about the farmers’ situation, Hindustan Times reported. “Ten farmers from Haryana have lost their lives,” she added. “The chief minister of Haryana should take a delegation to the prime minister and make him understand the situation on the ground.”
She sought a fast resolution of the crisis. “The central government has met the farm leaders several times now,” Kumari said. “It has called the farmers again today [Wednesday], but how will they proceed when the government refuses to compromise.”
Meanwhile, the leaders of farmers’ unions, at their meeting with the Centre, demanded justice for those who died during protests against the agricultural laws. They also asked the government to provide compensation to their families.
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at Delhi’s borders for over a month. The protestors say the laws will dismantle regulated markets, and hurt their livelihoods by making them vulnerable to big corporations. Before the meeting, farmer groups had reiterated that repeal of the three farm laws is the first point in their agenda for Wednesday’s talks.
The Centre has only offered to make amendments to certain sections of the laws, along with a written guarantee on minimum support price.