Farmer leaders agree to talk to Centre on Dec 29 but only on repeal of laws

Topics Farmer protest | Centre | Farm Bills

A farmer shout slogans during a protest against farm bills at Singhu Border in New Delhi
The protesting farmers on Saturday accepted the government's offer of talks and said that they are willing to come for discussion on December 29, provided the Centre lays down the modalities for repeal of three controversial farm acts, comes out with an action plan on providing a legal guarantee for procurement of crops at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and also clear its stand on the draft electricity amendment bill and pollution ordinance.

Responding to the letter sent by the government to the 40-odd protesting farmer groups, majority of them from Punjab, the union leaders said that talks could happen on December 29 at 11 am on the modalities of when and how the three farm acts will be repealed.

“The government in its letter has said that it is ready for talks with an open mind, if it is ready, the Centre should stop using the official machinery for spreading disinformation about the farmers and the agitation,” the letter sent by Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM), the conglomeration of 40 farmer groups said.

The farmers, meanwhile, have decided to intensify their agitation and hold tractor march on Kundli-Manesar-Palwal highway on December 30 in protest against Centre's laws.

“We request people from Delhi and other parts of country to come and celebrate New Year with protesting farmers,” Darshan Pal, one of the leaders of the union said.

Mahendra Singh Tikait, leader of BKU, confirmed that the protesting farmer unions have decided to resume dialogue with the government and have proposed December 29 as the date for the next round of talks.

Tikait, a senior leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union, said the modalities for the repeal of three farm laws and guarantee for MSP (minimum support price at which the government procures crops from farmers) should be part of the agenda for talks with the government.

Meanwhile, Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) convenor and Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal has announced a split from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the Centre's new farm laws.

Thousands of farmers have been camping at three Delhi border points ---- Sighu, Tikri and Ghazipur --- for nearly a month, demanding a complete repeal of three agri laws enacted in September and a legal guarantee on minimum support price.

While the government has presented these laws as major reforms aimed at helping farmers, protesting unions have maintained these Acts will leave them at the mercy of big corporates by weakening the mandi and MSP systems.

The Confederation of All India Traders Association (CAIT), meanwhile, said that the use of the term 'bicholiya' (middlemen) in the course of the farmer agitation is highly derogatory and traders of the country will give appropriate reply at the right time. 

In Haryana, former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda again demanded convening of a special session of the Assembly and said his Congress party will move a no-confidence motion against the BJP-JJP government.

"The government has lost the support of the people and many MLAs backing it," the Leader of Opposition in Haryana said in a statement.

Hooda reiterated his stand of bringing a no-confidence motion against the government in the Assembly, saying "many Independent MLAs have withdrawn support from the government".

Two Independent MLAs -- Sombir Sangwan and Balraj Kundu -- have withdrawn support to the state government, while many of the 10 legislators of the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) have openly come out in support of the farmers protesting against the Centre's three farm laws.

At present, the Khattar government enjoys a comfortable majority in the 90-member State Assembly.

The BJP has 40 MLAs and its ally JJP 10. There are 31 Congress MLAs and one each from the Indian National Lok Dal and Haryana Lokhit Party.

Seven members are Independents, out of whom five, including Power Minister Ranjit Singh Chautala, support the ruling combine. 


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