Delhi Farmers Protest: Government Calls on Unions to Reconsider Proposals, Says Open for Talks | India News
While stating once again that repeal of farm laws demanded by agitators farmers was not on the table, Union agriculture minister Narendra Tomar paused on guarantees and amendments promised by the Center and said it was ready to discuss provisions that unions believe adversely affect the agricultural sector.
However, the farmers camping on the Singhu border in Delhi were in no mood to give in. They reiterated the demand for a repeal of the laws and said that the “deadline” of December 10 set for the government to respond to their demand had passed.
“We will block the train tracks if our demands are not met. We will decide the date and announce it soon, ”said Boota Singh, one of the union members. Balbir Singh Rajewal from BKU (Rajewal) said: “If agriculture is a state issue, the Center has no right to enact laws on it.”
Despite the relentless stance of the unions, Tomar tried to adopt a conciliatory note, saying: “We sent a proposal to the farmers on Wednesday. They wanted the laws repealed. Our position is that the government is ready for open-minded discussions … The laws do not affect APMC ‘mandis’ or the minimum support price (MSP). ”
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured farmers that the MSP would continue. “We are ready to put this in writing to the farmers’ unions and also to the states,” he said. When asked how feasible a solution was, he said he was optimistic about finding a way through the discussion.
Tomar, along with Food and Consumer Affairs Minister Piyush Goyal, explained in detail how the government’s proposal would address key concerns raised by farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana and some from western UP, who are up in arms for the laws that allow the sale of produce outside of the ‘mandis’ regulated by APMC with a protective legal framework, encourage contract farming and set a higher bar to impose stock limits on essential agricultural products.
Explaining the agricultural laws, Tomar said: “The government wants to free farmers from the shackles of ‘mandi’ so that they can sell their products anywhere, to anyone, at their own price, outside the realm of the ‘mandis’ . The government has made this law for the whole country and farmers have started to make a profit ”. Goyal added.
On the issue of stubble burning penalty provisions in the new Delhi-NCR air quality management ordinance, Goyal explained that the high penalty provisions were largely aimed at industries or industrial pollution.
Underlining that farm laws were reforms, undertaken after many rounds of stakeholder consultation, both Tomar and Goyal emphasized that the central government was within its constitutional rights in making laws on agricultural trade. Peasant leaders, however, were not convinced of what Tomar and Goyal said in defense of the agricultural laws and claimed that the ministers themselves admitted that the laws were enacted for commerce.