Amit Shah's meet with farmers inconclusive; Centre to make proposals today

Activists of various farmers organisations blocked National Highway 37 during a protest in support of 'Bharat Bandh' called by agitating farmers to press for repeal of the Centre's farm reform laws, at Rangamati in Golaghat on Tuesday.
The central government has assured the agitating farmers that it will incorporate the issues raised by them and come up with concrete proposals to amend the three farm Acts on Wednesday.

Addressing a group of reporters after agitating farmers’ meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah, Hannah Mollah, the general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha, said the central government had said it would come up with a set of amendments to the contentious farm laws for farmer groups to consider. After that, another round of discussions would be held. “As far as my information is concerned, the sixth round of meeting scheduled for tomorrow stands cancelled now, as we will not wait for the Centre’s proposals,” Mollah told reporters.

Earlier, Shah held a meeting with agitating farmers to break the deadlock over the three farm laws, on a day when the growers called for a nationwide strike, which was supported by political parties. News agency PTI reported quoting unnamed sources that 13 farmer leaders – eight from Punjab and five from various nationwide organizations – were called for the meeting, which began after 8 pm.

Sources said the participating leaders included Mollah and Rakesh Tikait of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU). Some farmer leaders said they first expected the meeting to take place at Shah's residence, but the venue was shifted to the Pusa area.

The meeting assumes significance as farmer leaders have been firm on their demand for a repeal of the three new farm laws enacted in September which they claimed would benefit corporate players, besides ending the mandi system and the minimum support price (MSP) regime.

"We will demand just a 'yes' or a 'no' from Shah," farmer leader Rudru Singh Mansa told reporters earlier in the day at the Singhu border, where thousands of farmers have been protesting for the past 12 days. A 'Bharat Bandh' observed by farmers to press their demands affected life in some states on Tuesday.

The central government had earlier indicated that it was willing to consider changes in some provisions of the three Acts which could include having the option of approaching the civil courts in case of a dispute in contract Act and trade Act and some sort of level playing field in terms of taxes for sale done inside and outside the mandis.

However, sources said the tax proposals could move forward only if states agreed to bring down their levies on trade within mandis to reasonable levels as APMCs fell within their domain. The government, according to some, again assured the farmers that MSP would be maintained, but incorporating it in the Acts was clearly out of the question.

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