Farmers protesting against the three new agriculture laws on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to resume talks, reported PTI. In a letter to Modi, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 farmers’ unions, said it will not give up the fight as it was a matter of life and death for the protestors.
“Any democratic government would have repealed the three laws that have been rejected by the farmers in whose name these were enacted, and seized the opportunity to provide legal guarantee of MSP to all farmers,” read the Samyukta Kisan Morcha’s letter, according to PTI. “...As head of the government of the largest democracy in the world, the onus of resuming a serious and sincere dialogue with the farmers lies with you.”
The Centre and farmers have held 11 rounds of talks since December, but could not reach a resolution as the government did not agree to the demand of scrapping the laws altogether. The last round of discussion was held on January 22.
In January, the government had offered to suspend the farm laws for 12-18 months, which was rejected by the farmer unions. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of the laws till further orders and set up a committee to resolve the impasse.
The signatories of the letter include Balbir Singh Rajewal, Darshan Pal, Gurnam Singh Chadhuni, Hannan Mollah, Jagjit Singh Dallewal, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, Shiv Kumar Kakkaji, Yogendra Yadav and Yudhvir Singh, reported the Hindustan Times. The farm leaders said they were firm on their “core demands”.
“We…are writing this letter a few days before our struggle completes six months on 26th May 2021,” the letter added. “On the same day, your government at the Centre, the most anti-farmer government that this country has seen, completes seven years in office.”
An unidentified agriculture ministry official told the Hindustan Times that the government was always ready to talk to the farmers. “The prime minister and the agriculture minister have said this in Parliament and outside,” said another official.
The letter came two days after the Samyukta Kisan Morcha warned the Centre not to “test their patience” and to instead initiate dialogue and accept their demands. “It has been a chaotic situation with regard to food and accommodation, due to the rain,” the Morcha noted after spells of rain caused damage to their protest sites at the borders of national Capital Delhi. “Roads and several parts of the protest sites have been filled up with rainwater. For six months now, in all such circumstances, in the absence of any government facilities and support, the protesting farmers themselves are handling such situations.”
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that the government repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. The farmers have hunkered down with supplies that they say will last them for months, and have resolved to not leave until their demands are met.
The farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime. The government, however, continues to claim that the three legislation are pro-farmer.
The movement poses one of the biggest challenges to Modi since he took power in 2014, as he faces criticism from all sides, including from some allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Shiromani Akali Dal of Punjab quit the ruling National Democratic Alliance at the Centre in September itself. Another sign of impact was the Congress’ spectacular performance in the Punjab urban body polls held in February.