Ready for any alternative to law repeal demand, Tomar to farmers
New Delhi, January 17, 2021
Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday again appealed to the farmers unions to suggest ways to resolve the deadlock over the agrarian reforms implemented by the Modi government.
Prior to the next round of talks scheduled on January 19 with the farmer unions leading the protests against the farm laws passed by Parliament last year, he said that if the farmer unions could suggest any alternative solution, apart from the repeal of the three Central farm laws, the government would certainly consider it.
On the other hand, as the ongoing farmer agitation at the borders of the national Capital has entered the 53rd day, the farmer unions have clearly said they would continue with all their programmes announced earlier to intensify the protest.
The Agriculture Minister in a statement to IANS said that, in the next round of talks, the farmers' unions should discuss the three farm laws point-wise and express their reservations, and the Central government would consider these. Apart from repeal of the three laws, the government would seriously consider whatever alternatives the farmers suggest, he added.
With a view to improving agriculture and allied sectors, the Central government implemented 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. Though the Supreme Court has stayed the implementation of these laws and set up am expert committee to resolve the issue, the Central government has kept open the path for dialogue with the farmer unions.
Tomar, who is leading the negotiations on behalf of the government, has repeatedly reiterated that whatever provisions would be appropriate in the interests of the farmers of the country, the Modi government would consider including them in the new farm laws.
But the leaders of farmer unions are firm on their demand that the three laws be repealed. The Central government has said it is ready to present its case before the committee set up by the Supreme Court to find solutions to the problems of the farmers, but the protesting farmer unions are not ready to appear before it.
Apart from the repeal of the three new farm laws, the protesting farmers are demanding a legal guarantee for procurement of crops at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) while the Union government has already accepted two other core demands related to power subsidy and stubble burning.
Union Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal had, on October 14, first held talks with the farmer leaders to resolve the misgivings of the farmers regarding the new farm laws. The ministerial-level talks began after this, but the nine rounds of talks till now have been inconclusive on the main demand. Apart from Tomar, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Som Prakash, have been leading the government side in the talks.