New Delhi: Farmers groups protesting the three new farm laws have rejected the Centre’s latest proposal, calling it an insult and vowing to escalate their struggle, now in its fourteenth day.
The government’s negotiations with leaders of the farmers’ unions reached a critical point on Tuesday – the very day farmers had called for a nationwide strike in protest. Union home minister Amit Shah had called a few of the many farmers’ union leaders for a meeting with him and other representatives of the Centre. The meeting went on till late at night and was learned to have been inconclusive.
However, Shah had reportedly promised to send farmers a proposal in writing.
This draft proposal was sent to 13 farmers’ union leaders – including Joginder Singh Urgrahan of Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan), one of the biggest among the nearly 40 agitating unions – by Vivek Aggarwal, joint secretary at the Union agriculture ministry.
The main point of the proposal given to the farmers was that the minimum support price (MSP) for procurement will not end with the recently enacted laws. Other amendments include the possibility of registration and taxation of traders operating outside APMC mandis, and allowing farmers the opportunity to appeal disputes in civil courts.
Firm on rejection
Farm union leaders, however, are firm on their demand that the three agriculture laws must be repealed. Dr Darshan Pal, president of Krantikari Kisan Union, said, “We reject the government’s proposals.”
Farmers have said that they will continue demonstrations on all four borders points, at Singhu, Chilla, Ghazipur and Tikri and will continue to occupy more roads in the capital city as a mark of their protest.
A statement issued by Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan) notes that there is “nothing new in the amendments.” What was communicated to the agitating unions in the last meeting has been sent to them in written form, the statement notes.
Speaking to The Wire, Tejinder Singh Virk of the Terai Kisan Union of Uttarakhand said that he is unhappy with the Centre’s proposed amendments, especially when it comes to MSP. “The amendments say that the current system of MSP purchase will remain as is and the government will provide a written guarantee to farmers. But in the current system, hardly any state other than of Punjab and Haryana get MSP for their crops,” said Virk.
“What about in Uttar Pradesh where farmers get paid below the MSP,” Virk added.
According to him, MSP must be made a legal right. The Terai Kisan Union, along with Rakesh Tikait’s BKU have been camping at the Ghazipur border since the last week.
‘Gherao’, ‘boycott’, ‘protest’
The All India Kisan Sangarsh Coordination Committee, a pan-Indian umbrella organisation comprising 250 farmers’ units has issued a statement supporting the rejection of the government’s proposal by farmers. The statement read, “Modi government is insincere and arrogant about resolving farmers’ demands. All farmer bodies have rightly rejected the old proposal dressed up as new.”
In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, farmers’ union leaders said that they will continue with their protest and will block all “Delhi roads one by one” if the three laws are not scrapped.
On December 14, there is a call to all north Indian farmers to come to Delhi. On the same day, farmers in south India and other states will protest at district headquarters and sit in indefinite protests.
Farmer leader Shiv Kumar Kakka said, “We will gherao district headquarters in states on December 14, and the Jaipur-Delhi highway will be blocked till December 12.” No tax will be be paid on that day at any toll plaza in country, he added.
The farmers have also given a call for gheraoing offices of the BJP on December 14. On the day, they will also be boycotting Jio services and boycotting of malls and products owned and marketed by Adani and Ambani, who they consider symbols of big corporations to which the Centre is pandering.
However, farmer leaders have also said that they will consider another proposal if it is sent by the government.
Meeting with the president
Meanwhile, five opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Sharad Pawar met President Ram Nath Kovind seeking the repeal of farm laws. “We have given a memorandum to the President. We are asking to repeal agriculture laws and electricity amendment bill that were passed in anti-democratic manner without proper discussions and consultations,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said, “We met the President and have said that its important that the farm laws be taken back.”
देश का किसान समझ गया है कि मोदी सरकार ने उन्हें धोखा दिया है और अब वो पीछे नहीं हटने वाला क्योंकि वो जानता है कि अगर आज समझौता कर लिया तो उसका भविष्य नहीं बचेगा।
किसान हिंदुस्तान है!
हम सब किसान के साथ हैं, डटे रहिए। pic.twitter.com/8r8aW3GwMw
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) December 9, 2020
The three laws – The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020 were passed by the Centre in the last monsoon session of parliament.