Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told the Parliament on Friday that the Centre’s offer to amend the new farm laws did not mean there was something wrong with them, reported PTI. Tomar, who was speaking in the Rajya Sabha, also asserted that farmers belonging to only one state, were protesting against the laws in an apparent reference to Punjab
Tomar was speaking at the Upper House during the discussion on a motion thanking the President for his address to Budget Session of the Parliament.
“I made it clear that if the government was ready to make amendments, it does not mean there is any problem in farm laws,” he said, according to ANI. “People in a particular state are being misinformed and instigated.” Countering the protestors who have termed the legislations as “black laws”, Tomar claimed that the Opposition parties and farmer unions have failed to point out a single flaw in them, reported PTI.
“We have been asking what is black in this law and no one is forthcoming,” Tomar said, according to NDTV.
The minister reiterated that the Centre was committed to welfare of farmers and the continuation of the mandi (wholesale market) system of procurement of crops on Minimum Support Price (MSP) based mechanism. He said the new laws give farmers the alternative to sell their produce outside mandis, and unlike in state government notified market places, such sale will not attract any taxes.
“The agitation should have been against the tax levied [by state governments] on sale made in mandis but strangely the protests are against freeing of the system from such taxes,” he said.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of Delhi for over two months, with ten rounds of talks between the government and farmers’ groups failing to resolve the deadlock. Farmers’ around-the-clock sit-ins in cold weather have already led to several deaths among them. The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate agricultural.
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.