Ready for alternative to agri laws repeal demand, says Centre to protesting farmers; agitators determined on Republic Day tractor march in Delhi | India News

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday asserted that except for the demand of repealing the agriculture laws, the government is ready to consider “seriously and with an open heart” other alternatives. The statement comes ahead of the tenth round of talks scheduled on January 19. 

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Tomar also urged the protesting farmer leaders to give up their “stubborn” stand on the new agriculture laws and come for a clause by clause discussion. “Now that the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of these laws, then there is no question of being stubborn,” Tomar told reporters. The government wants farmer leaders to come for clause by clause discussion at the next meeting on January 19.

Meanwhile, farmer unions protesting said that they will go ahead with their proposed tractor parade in Delhi on Republic Day. Addressing a press conference at the Singhu border protest site, union leader Yogendra Yadav said, “We will carry out a tractor parade on the Outer Ring Road in Delhi on Republic Day. The parade will be very peaceful. There will be no disruption of the Republic Day parade. The farmers will put up the national flag on their tractors.”

The authorities had moved the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers which seeks to disrupt the gathering and celebrations of Republic Day on January 26. The matter is pending in court.

Another farmer union leader, Darshan Pal Singh, alleged that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is filing cases against those who are part of the protest or supporting it. “All farmer unions condemn this,” Pal said, referring to the NIA summons reportedly issued to a farmer union leader in a case related to the banned Sikhs For Justice outfit.

The Supreme Court on January 11 had stayed the implementation of the three laws till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse. Bhartiya Kisan Union president Bhupinder Singh Mann, however, recused from the committee last week.

Tomar said the government offered certain concessions, but the farmer leaders have not shown flexibility and were constantly demanding a repeal of the laws. He reiterated that the government makes laws for the entire country. Many farmers, experts and other stakeholders have supported the laws. Tomar, who left for his home constituency of Morena in Madhya Pradesh by Hazur Sahib Nanded-Amritsar Superfast Express, was seen sharing langar from co-passengers of Sikh community. 

So far, the nine rounds of formal talks between the Centre and 41 farmer unions have failed to yield any concrete results to end the long-running protest at Delhi’s borders as the latter have stuck to their main demand of a complete repeal of the three Acts.

The Supreme Court-appointed committee on the three new farm laws is scheduled to hold its first meeting on January 19 at Pusa campus in New Delhi, one of its members Anil Ghanwat said on Sunday. Apart from Ghanwat, agri-economists Ashok Gulati and Pramod Kumar Joshi are the two other panel members.

“We are meeting on January 19 at the Pusa campus. Only members will meet to decide the future course of action,” Ghanwat, President of Shetkari Sanghatana (Maharashtra), told PTI. One of the four members has backed out of the committee. If the apex court does not appoint a new member, the existing members will continue, he said.

The committee has received the terms of reference and will begin the work from January 21 onwards, he added. Asked about the government holding parallel talks with protesting farmer unions after the setting up of the SC panel, he said, “We have no issue if a solution is found and the protests end from either (efforts of) our panel or from the government’s separate talks with the protesting farmer unions.” “Let (Government) them continue the discussion, we have been given a duty and we will focus on that,” he added.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Monday the pleas relating to the controversial farm laws and the ongoing farmers’ protest at Delhi borders. It may take into account the matter of recusal of the member from the panel. The top court would also hear the plea of the central government, filed though the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction against a proposed tractor march or any other kind of protest by farmers that may disrupt the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at various border points of Delhi for over a month now demanding the repeal of the three laws — the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act.

Enacted in September 2020, the central government has presented these laws as major farm reforms aimed at increasing farmers’ income, but the protesting farmers have raised concerns that these legislations would weaken the minimum support price (MSP) and “mandi” (wholesale market) systems and leave them at the mercy of big corporations. The government has maintained that these apprehensions are misplaced and has ruled out a repeal of the laws.

with additional inputs from news agency PTI

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