Farmers toughen stance ahead of talks, ask govt to show a ‘positive attitude’

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January 2, 2021 5:30 AM

“It looks like the government is taking farmers’ protest lightly. The patience of farmers is waning,” said Yudvir Singh of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), which is part of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (United Farmers’ Front) spearheading the current agitation.

Ten farmer organisations from Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharasthra, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh participated in discussions with committee members, it said.Ten farmer organisations from Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharasthra, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh participated in discussions with committee members, it said.

Leaders of farmer organisations on Friday asked the government to show a ‘positive attitude’ in next round of talks, scheduled on January 4, to address their two key demands — repeal of three farm laws and legally guaranteed minimum support price (MSP). In the absence of such an approach by the government, the situation may “go out of control”, they warned.

“It looks like the government is taking farmers’ protest lightly. The patience of farmers is waning,” said Yudvir Singh of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), which is part of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (United Farmers’ Front) spearheading the current agitation.

The chances of a solution to the prolonged agitation by farmers at the border of the national capital and elsewhere brightened for the first time on December 30 after the government accepted two of the four demands raised by 40 farmer unions. However, a hard-line stand on Friday by farmers may derail the process of talks even as agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar hoped for a satisfactory resolution in the new year.

Outlining the agitation plan, Yogendra Yadav, a member of Samyukta Kisan Morcha said “if the result of the next round of talks is not satisfactory, a tractor march will be held on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal highway on January 6. Besides, the farmers gathered at the Shahjahanpur border of Rajasthan and Haryana would also continue their march to Delhi from a pre-announced date.” Farmer leaders also said that they have already rejected the government’s suggestion to set up an expert committee to weigh the ramifications of a legally mandated MSP system.

There are thousands of farmers gathered on the Rajasthan and Haryana border since about a month after Haryana government put barricades on the highway connecting Jaipur with Delhi. Some of the protesting farmers on Thursday tried to break the barricade and proceed to Delhi which was controlled by the leaders present. The leaders persuaded the farmers to wait for the next round of talks.

According to the decision conveyed by the government after the December 30 talks, farmers would be kept outside the ambit of air pollution Ordinance, meaning no stiff penalties will be imposed on them for stubble burning. Also, the current electricity subsidy system for irrigation, where the farmers pay at highly subsidised rates, will continue, so farmers won’t have to pay the full rate and then get the subsidy at bank accounts via the direct benefit transfer system.

While assuring that procurement and market of agricultural produce on MSP will continue as before, Tomar had suggested that a committee could be formed to resolve the difference between MSP of agricultural produce and their market prices.

Expressing the hope that the next round of talks will produce a solution to the vexed issue, Tomar said: “I hope that in the new year, solutions would be found. The remaining issues will be discussed in the next round of talks and I hope there will be an agreement between government and farmer unions:”

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