Ahead of the Centre’s seventh round of meeting with protesting farmers over the three farm laws on Monday, Union minister of state (MoS) for agriculture Kailash Choudhary said on Saturday a solution would come up during the talks and that the ongoing stir would end. Choudhary said the laws, which were passed in September last year, are for the farmers, who have been protesting against the reforms for over a month camping at several border points near Delhi and surrounding areas.
“I am confident that in the next round of talks with farmers, a solution will be reached and the ongoing protest will come to an end. The three farm bills are in favour of farmers. They used to demand to get rid of the middleman and sell their produce at a rate of their choice,” the minister was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Choudhary also talked about the issue of contract farming in the farm reforms. “In the new bill, there can’t be an investigation against a farmer even if he is at fault. It also states there won’t be any agreement regarding the land of the farmer. The bill is favourable for farmers and the PM wants them to become ‘atmanirbhar’,” he said.
The first five rounds of talks held between protesters and the government did not yield any solution. On December 30, the farmers’ unions decided to meet the ministers for the sixth time. However, the government only agreed to address two of the four issues raised by farmers, which were sparing heavy fines for stubble burning and continuing the current mechanism of giving subsidised power for agricultural use. Till now, there has been no final call on whether the reforms should be removed.
Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had also said on Friday that the government was hopeful of a positive outcome during the January 4 (Monday) meeting but withheld a prediction whether it would be the final round of talks with the protesters. “I cannot say for sure now. I am not an astrologer. I am hopeful that whatever decision would be arrived at (in the meeting) will be in the interest of the country and of the farmers,” Tomar had said.
On the other hand, representatives of farmers’ unions warned that they would intensify their agitation and take it to every corner of the country if the Centre fails to resolve their main issues of the repeal of the reforms and facilitating a legal guarantee for the Minimum Support Price (MSP) during the interaction. “If the January 4 meeting with the government fails to end the deadlock, we will announce dates for shutting all malls, petrol pumps in Haryana,” a farmer leader said.
The unions have further warned of a tractor march on January 6 from the protest site to the Kundli–Manesar–Palwal (KMP) Expressway and farmers protesting at the Shahjahanpur on the Haryana-Rajasthan border will be told to move towards the national capital.
(With agency inputs)