In the last round of talks, the Centre had offered to repeal the farm laws by 12-18 months but the farmers refused to budge from their demand of repeal of agricultural laws.
The farmer unions protesting against the the three agri laws on Wednesday said that the back-channel talks with the Centre were always on but they will appreciate Captain Amarinder Singh if he managed to mediate and get the issue resolved.
Almost a dozen rounds of talks have been held between the Centre and farmer unions. In the last round of talks held in January this year, the government offered to suspend the laws for 12-18 months, but the farmers refused to budge from their demand of total repeal of laws.
- Punjab Elections 2022: BJP in talks with Amarinder Singh, Akali Dal for alliance, says Amit Shah
- Punjab elections: Amarinder Singh says Congress will sack anyone who joins him; opens up on alliance with BJP
- ‘Patiala with us for the last 400 years…’: Amarinder Singh to fight Punjab polls from stronghold
The Indian Express quoted sources saying that Amarinder met farmer leaders twice after resigning as the chief minister of Punjab.
“Efforts were always on. Back channels were open. Officials from the office of Home Minister and Agriculture Minister were in touch with us. However, things never reached any consensus. Otherwise, the dharna would have been lifted long ago,” The Indian Express quoted a farm union leader as saying.
BKU (Ugrahan) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan said that mediators offered help in the past were they were not serious enough to be trusted.
However, Agriculture Ministry sources were quoted ruling out any back-channel negotiations. They reiterated that the government had given a proposal to the protesting farm unions in January, but they had not accepted.
“The top priority of Punjab farmers is that the three farm laws be repealed. Farmers from the rest of the country are demanding enactment of a law on the MSP,” a farmer leader, member of the Samkyukt Kisan Morcha, was quoted as saying.
The farm unions’ reaction came a day after Amarinder Singh said he will launch his own political party ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls and announced that he may ally with the BJP if the farmers’ protest is resolved. The farm bodies, however, shrugged off Amarinder’s decision as his “personal matter” and a “fight to save his political existence”.
Manjit Singh Rai, president of the Doaba Kisan Union, said, “Floating a political party is a personal matter of the former CM. We have nothing to do with it. However, if Amarinder mediates and gets our issues resolved, we will thank him. He has been in talks with farmer unions since the beginning and he is aware of our issues and demands. Let’s see what sort of efforts he makes.”
Buta Singh Burjgill, president of the BKU (Dakaunda), said they got to know Amarinder’s plans through his statements. “We have nothing to do with (his political plans). But if he can help out in getting farm laws repealed, and implementation of MSP across the country, we will be thankful.”