The government holds separate talks with the Tikait faction of BKU
The Union government held separate negotiations on Monday evening with the Tikait faction of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), which dominates western Uttar Pradesh, in hopes of building a bridge with a group of farmers well known to some. high-ranking government ministers.
Rakesh Tikait, spokesperson for the BKU (Tikait faction), said his group was backing the protests of Punjab farmers and that a separate meeting was held to further explore avenues for a solution. Protests by thousands of farmers who say three recent land reform laws will harm their interests have simmered for the sixth day in a row.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and the Ministers of Railways, Food and Consumer Affairs, along with Minister of State Son Prakash, held talks with a team of leaders from the Tikait group at the Ministry of Agriculture shortly after concluding the main discussions, which ended inconclusively, with leaders of 35 agricultural organizations.
The meeting with the Tikait group followed a series of informal discussions between the leaders of the Tikait group and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh, a government official said, requesting anonymity.
“The Defense Minister has been talking to various stakeholders and farmers’ unions in the hope of finding an amicable settlement, including the Tikait group. The government believes in talking to everyone, ”said the official.
“We are with the farmers of Punjab. I am hopeful of a solution, although it may take time, “Tikait said, adding:” Rajnath Singh’s family is involved in agriculture. He was a successful prime minister of our state and he was sensitive to the problem of farmers. ”
The Tikait group has considerable influence over the sugarcane and wheat growing belts of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh, and is politically influential.
Rakesh Tikait said the meeting with the three ministers focused on the three laws, in addition to other key issues facing farmers. “We have (also) demanded easier rules for agricultural credit under the Kisan credit card system and cheaper electricity,” he said.
Yudhvir Singh, the group’s general secretary, said the government’s move to impose steep fines for burning crop residues, one of the main causes of pollution, was another anti-agriculture measure that should be withdrawn.
“At the meeting, the ministers told us that we should highlight specific issues with agricultural laws. Our question is how can one prevent the state-notified markets from collapsing due to the new reforms? If the government works along these lines, a solution is possible ”, he said.
Farmers want the government to repeal three laws passed by Parliament in September. Basically, laws change the way Indian farmers do business by creating free markets, as opposed to a decades-old network of government-controlled agricultural markets.
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. . The government has said the laws will empower and enrich farmers, freeing them from the clutches of local merchants and opening up new opportunities.