Don’t mistake proposal to suspend farm laws as admission that Acts have lacunae: Agriculture Minister Tomar

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January 23, 2021 10:46 AM

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

narendra singh tomar on farm talksHe stressed that the government made the best proposal it had in resolving the standoff. (File image: IE)

As the government’s long-running talks with protesting farmers hit a dead end on Friday, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told union leaders that the proposal to suspend three farm laws should not be misunderstood as an admission that the Acts have any lacunae.

He said the proposal has been made keeping in mind sensitivity of the matter and because the government is keen to resolve the crisis in the interest of the farming community.

Hours after the 11th round of talks ended inconclusively, the agriculture ministry released a video from the meeting showing Tomar urging farmer leaders to think about the interest of farmers.

“Agreements and disagreements are natural in a democracy… But there should be an outlook to reach a way out through dialogue,” the minister said.

He said it was unfortunate that no resolution could be reached yet through talks, but thanked the farmers’ union for keeping their protest peaceful.

“Normally, when negotiations are on new protest are not announced. You participated in the talks and at the same time also kept on announcing new form of protest and were successful in it. But we never raised this issue.

“With a heavy heart, I want to tell you that the viewpoint that was required in the discussion was missing, due to which we couldn’t reach a way out,” Tomar said in the video.

He stressed that the government made the best proposal it had in resolving the standoff.

“I urge you reconsider it and if you reach a decision… if you decide and come forward, we will be ready to welcome you,” the agriculture minister added.

The government’s negotiations with protesting farm unions hit a roadblock on Friday as the farmer leaders stuck to their demands for a complete repeal of three farm laws they find pro-corporate and a legal guarantee for minimum support price, even as the Centre asked them to reconsider its proposal for putting the Acts on hold for 12-18 months.

Unlike the last 10 rounds of talks, the 11th round could not even reach a decision on the next date for the meeting as the government also hardened its position saying it is ready to meet again once the unions agree to discuss the suspension proposal.

This followed a big climbdown made by the Centre during the last round when they offered to suspend the laws and form a joint committee to find solutions.

Farmer leaders said they will intensify their agitation now and alleged that the government’s approach during the meeting was not right.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November 28, demanding a repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price for their crops.

Enacted in September last year, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.

However, the protesting farmers have expressed their apprehension that the new laws would pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP (minimum support price) and do away with the “mandi” (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporates.

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