Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said that the government was ready to resume talks with protesting farmers if they agree to its offer to put the three contentious farm laws on hold for one-and-a-half year and work out the difference during that time through a joint committee.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait
As the impasse over the three contentious farm laws continues, farmer leaders on Friday reached out to an international audience, mainly from the Indian-origin community, in order to build pressure on the government to accept their two demands —repeal of the three Acts concerned and a legally guaranteed minimum support price (MSP) mechanism. More such events will be planned to reach out to maximum audience abroad to dispel misinformation spread after the violence on January 26 tractor rally, the farm leaders said.
“The struggle will continue until the demands are met as both are inter-related and equally important for the survival of the farmers,” said Abhimanyu Kohar, a young leader of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (United Farmers’ Front) which is spearheading the protest, which has completed 90 days. The Supreme Court last month stayed the implementation of the three farm laws and appointed a committee of experts to submit a report within two months after talking to all the stakeholders. Still, the agitating farmers have decided to continue with the stir demanding repeal of the laws. They also rejected the Centre’s conditional offer to continue the discussion after accepting the government’s proposal to withhold the laws for 12-18 months.
Agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said that the government was ready to resume talks with protesting farmers if they agree to its offer to put the three contentious farm laws on hold for one-and-a-half year and work out the difference during that time through a joint committee. Even after the farmers’ unions rejected the government’s offer to keep the laws in abeyance, Tomar reiterated: “Aaj bhi jab unka koi mat aayega, toh Bharat sarkar hamesha kisano ke saath charcha karne ko taiyaar hai (The government has been holding discussions with farmers sympathetically. Even today, whenever their response comes, the government is always ready to hold talks).”
During the webinar organised by California-based ‘We Support Farmers’ movement, there were several suggestions and offer of support from the Indian community living abroad to spread the protest to other parts, including poll bound West Bengal. However, farmer leaders made it clear that their protest is non-political and they have been organising “kisan mahapanchayat” (farmer convention) at different places one after another state. Currently, the focus is on Rajasthan while plan has been chalked out to hold such meetings in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka in next phase.
Meanwhile, sensing the support the farmer protest has evoked in rural areas in western Uttar Pradesh, where the Tikait brothers (sons of legendary farmer leader Mahendra Singh Tikait) wield considerable influence over the farming community, BJP has asked its party leaders to reach out to community leaders and enlist their support in favour of the farm laws. However, there has been resistance and clashes at some villages as some of the supporters of BJP have been objecting to any sloganeering against their leaders.
Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait has threatened to march to the Parliament with 40 lakh tractors if laws are not repealed, although he later clarified that any such call will be taken by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha and he will abide by its decision.