By Arpan Rai
Adamant on the repeal of three contentious farm laws, farm union leaders on Friday reiterated their pointed demand seeking rollback of the legislations ahead of their eighth round of talks with the government.
“There is no scope of clause-wise talks. The government should hold a meeting to repeal these laws today itself,” says Balvinder Singh Raju, a farmer told news agency ANI on Friday.
Signalling hope, Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Union said, “We are going for talks with the hope that there will be a resolution today.”
The eighth round of talks between three Union ministers – Narendra Singh Tomar, Piyush Goyal and Som Parkash – and the farmer unions to end the more than a month long agitation is scheduled to begin at the Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi at 2 pm. Tomar is likely to call on Union home minister Amit Shah to discuss the issue before the talks begin, reported news agency ANI.
So far the farmers and the government have engaged in seven rounds of talks to end the deadlock but inconclusively. Thousands of farmers have been camping on Delhi’s borders in bitter cold as a statement of protest against the three agricultural laws cleared by the Parliament in September last year.
Another farm union leader stated that they are hoping for the best but are prepared for the worst. “The minister yesterday categorically declared that repeal of farm laws is not accepted. I don’t know what will happen during the discussions today. Anyway, we hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” Hannan Mollah, general secretary of All India Kisan Sabha said.
Union minister of state for agriculture Kailash Choudhury hoped that a resolution will come out of Friday’s meeting. Talking to PTI, Choudhury said, “I am hopeful that a resolution will be reached at Friday’s meeting. We could have ended the deadlock by now had the protesting farmer unions discussed the issues raised at the first meeting.” There was no demand for a repeal of the three farm laws at the first meeting, he added.
The protests – longest such demonstration in decades of Independent India – have entered the seventh week and shows no signs of abating as the farmers have refused to halt them till their demands are met. The laws essentially change the way India’s farmers do business by creating free markets, as opposed to a network of decades-old, government marketplaces, allowing traders to stockpile essential commodities for future sales and laying down a national framework for contract farming.
These laws are the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020.
The farmers claim these laws will benefit big corporate houses. The government has, however, tried to allay these fears and even said that it is ready to discuss changes to the law. The government has made it clear that it won’t scrap these laws.( HT )