Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Tuesday said that the Centre was ready to talk to the protesting farmers but not about the farm laws, reported PTI.
“If the farmers’ organisations are ready to discuss options other than the agriculture bills, then the government is ready to talk with them,” he said.
Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since November, demanding that the Centre repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. 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.
Talks between farmers groups and the central government to resolve the protests had come to a complete deadlock after the farmers rejected the Centre’s offer to suspend the laws for two years. The last time both sides met was on January 22. Since then, most farmer leaders have said they were willing to speak to the government again.
In January, nearly two months into the protest movement, the Supreme Court suspended the implementation of the farm laws. It instead set up a committee and tasked it to consult stakeholders and assess the impact of the laws.
Meanwhile, Bharatiya Kisan Union spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said that the Union government should have open talks with the farmers of Bengal, reported ANI. Tikait is in Kolkata and will meet Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later on Wednesday.
The farmer leader said that farmers hold meetings with district collectors in Uttar Pradesh every month attended by district magistrates and officers of every department. “This policy should be implemented in all states [including West Bengal],” Tikait said.
On his meeting with Banerjee, Tikait said he will discuss agriculture, health, education and the local farmers with the chief minister.
The farmer leader had visited the state before the Assembly elections to attend a “kisan mahapanchayat” or farmers’ conclave and urged the residents not to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the polls.
Banerjee has also castigated the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and spoken in support of the farmers’ demand. In January, the state Legislative Assembly had passed a resolution seeking immediate withdrawal of three farm laws.
On the meeting, Trinamool Congress spokesperson Sukhendu Sekhar Roy said that the farmers’ union leader sees a wider role for Banerjee in the protest now beyond Bengal’s borders, reported The Telegraph. “They see Mamata as a pro-poor, pro-farmer, pro-people mass leader who is a street-fighter capable of felling many a Goliath....That is why they are paying her a visit,” he said.