Indian National Lok Dal leader and MLA from Ellenabad in Haryana Abhay Singh Chautala on Monday wrote to Haryana Speaker Gian Chand Gupta, offering his conditional resignation from the state Assembly. Chautala said that if he will resign if the new farm laws, against which farmers from several states are protesting, are not withdrawn.
“If by 26th January the Centre does not take back the farm laws, then, this letter should be considered as my resignation from the state assembly,” the letter read. The politician also highlighted that more than 60 protesting farmers had died so far due to extreme weather conditions in Delhi.
Chautala wrote to the Speaker that eight rounds of discussions have taken place but the government has not agreed to repeal the “black laws”. The INLD leader said that due to the current situation related to the farm law protests, he cannot protect farmers’ interests as a member of the Assembly.
Meanwhile, the Haryana unit of the Congress called for a special Assembly session to pass a resolution to repeal the laws, reported Hindustan Times. Congress’ Haryana unit chief Kumari Selja asked Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala to be the “true representatives of people”.
Selja said that the Haryana Congress would gherao the Raj Bhawan on January 15 in solidarity with the protesting farmers.
After being forced to cancel an outreach programme on the new agricultural laws amid massive demonstrations, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday once again affirmed that the central government would not scrap the contentious legislations. The chief minister said he hoped that the ongoing discussions between farm leaders and the Centre would yield a resolution.
Khattar’s press conference took place hours after protesting farmers on Sunday took control and ransacked the venue of the “kisan mahapanchayat” programme at Kaimla village in Haryana’s Karnal district, where the chief minister was to address people to highlight the benefits of the three laws. The Haryana Police had used water cannons, batons, and teargas shells to prevent farmers from marching towards the village. However, the protestors eventually managed to reach the venue and disrupt the programme.
Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court expressed extreme disappointment with the way the talks were proceeding between the Centre and farmer unions over the new agricultural laws, and warned that it would put the contentious legislations on hold if the government refused to do so. The court also observed that current negotiations between a delegation of protestors and several Union ministers were not reaping any results, and reiterated that the matter needed to be resolved by a committee.
The bench had first suggested the formation of a neutral committee having representatives of the government and farmer unions to resolve the deadlock on December 17.
The farm laws
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting at key entry points to Delhi for over a month against the laws now, withstanding temperatures that had dropped to as low as 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 laws passed in September are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.
The Centre has held eight rounds of talks with the farmers. However, no consensus has been reached yet. During the seventh rounds of talks, the two sides had only reached an agreement on the decriminalisation of stubble burning and safeguarding electricity subsidies – two of the four matters of contention. The government is not willing to acquiesce to the two main demands of farmers – repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee for minimum support price system. The ninth round of discussions are scheduled for January 15.