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Opinion

Farmers reject Amit Shah’s offer and want the panel to be named

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Leaders leading the farmers’ agitation have set new terms for talks with the Union government, demanding the name of the Center and authorizing a cabinet committee or group of ministers for future discussions, the Coordination Committee said Sunday. of Kisan Sangharsh from all over India (AIKSCC).

Nearly 30 leaders of various farmers’ organizations met on Sunday to discuss Interior Minister Amit Shah’s offer to advance the date of the next round of talks scheduled for December 3. Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had written to Darshan Pal Singh, Punjab, on November 28. Union chief Krantikari Kisan, along with 31 organizations, reiterating the interior minister’s offer to hold early talks.

The AIKSCC said the Interior Ministry should not lead the discussions as agriculture was outside its jurisdiction. “We have rejected the offer to speak with the Ministry of the Interior. The Home Office has nothing to do with farmers or agriculture, ”Singh said.

In response to the invitation of the Secretary of the Interior, the farmers’ representatives established new conditions for the next round of talks, calling for the participation of the “highest political level.”

“The Prime Minister makes all the decisions in the country. Although the Union ministers have participated in the last round of talks, we are not sure if they are empowered to make decisions. We want a cabinet committee or a group of ministers duly authorized or notified by the highest political level for future discussions, ”said Avik Saha, national secretary of the AIKSCC.

Sunday is the fourth day since farmers in Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, among other neighboring states, launched their “Dilli chalo” (march to Delhi) campaign to protest against a set of laws to liberalize agricultural trade and open agricultural markets in the country.

Saha said that during the anti-corruption agitation led by Anna Hazare in 2013, a cabinet panel was appointed to conduct negotiations with the protest leaders. “We want a similar mechanism for talks because sometimes the talks are led by the ministers of agriculture and food and sometimes they seem to be led by the Ministry of the Interior,” Saha said.

The latest farmers’ position could delay the next round of talks, and the government hopes to resolve the politically defiant turmoil.

“The AIKSCC has demanded that the government stop addressing the issue from the prism of the intelligence agencies and the Interior Ministry. The government got these statutes passed by Parliament and farmers are waiting for a political response from the highest levels of government. Their attempt to invoke the Ministry of the Interior only acts as a threat to the farmers, rather than arouse confidence in their sincerity, ”the AIKCC said in a statement.

Thousands of farmers have clashed with the police, traveling to the National Capital, where they hold protests against the three agricultural laws passed by Parliament in September.

Cultivators in tractors and trucks threw police barricades into a river near the Ambala district as they advanced towards the national capital, while police detained them with tear gas and water cannons. On Friday, the Union Interior Ministry allowed farmers to meet on the capital’s Burari land and made a new offer for talks.

“Farmers clearly want to be sure that the ministers who would negotiate with them should be empowered to make decisions. That seems to be the message, ”said political analyst Sanjay Kukreti of the University of Osmania.

On Sunday, Interior Minister Amit Shah, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar met at the residence of BJP President JP Nadda in Delhi to discuss the protest of the farmers, officials cited by the PTI news agency said.

Farmers want the Narendra Modi government to repeal three contentious laws passed by Parliament in September. The laws essentially change the way Indian farmers do business by creating free markets instead of a decades-old network of government-controlled agricultural markets.

Together, the laws allow companies to freely trade agricultural products outside of the so-called “mandi system” controlled by the government, they allow private traders to store large quantities of basic products for future sales, which previously could only be done by agents approved by the government. government, and establish new rules for contract farming.

Farmers say the reforms would make them vulnerable to exploitation by large corporations, erode their bargaining power, and weaken the government’s procurement system, whereby the government buys commodities, such as wheat and rice, at guaranteed prices. .

Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Railways, Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal held one-day negotiations with farmers on November 13. The discussions were inconclusive, but both parties agreed to continue negotiations in the future.

The opposition Congress criticized the central government led by the BJP for the alleged delay in reaching farmers: “Why has the Minister of Agriculture put out a date of December 3 before which a conversation cannot be held? … What is the sanctity of December 3? … Why is there no conversation, no dialogue with farmers? Asked party spokesman Randeep Surjewala.

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