In a setback to the Centre’s effort to break the deadlock over the farm laws, the protesting farmers’ unions on Thursday rejected the government’s offer to keep the laws on hold for around 18 months, saying that they will not settle for anything less than total repeal of the Acts and a legal guarantee for Minimum Support Price (MSP).
“The full general body of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (an umbrella body of farm unions leading protests across Delhi’s border) today rejected the proposal put forward by the Centre yesterday. A full repeal of the Acts and enacting a legislation for remunerative MSP for all farmers were reiterated as the pending demands of the movement,” a statement by the Morcha said.
The decision to reject the Centre’s proposal was taken after a marathon meeting of the unions that started around 2.30 pm on Thursday and concluded late in the evening. It also came a day before the eleventh round of negotiations between the government and the unions.
During the tenth round on Wednesday, the government proposed to suspend the three contentious farm laws for 1-1.5 years and set up a joint committee to find an amicable solution.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-appointed panel on the new laws started its consultation on Thursday and interacted with 10 farmers’ organisations from eight states, including Uttar Pradesh.
The apex court had on January 11 stayed the implementation of the three laws, against which farmers have been for nearly two months now, till further orders and appointed a four-member panel to resolve the impasse.
Earlier in the day, the meeting between protesting unions and police over the proposed tractor rally on Republic Day remained inconclusive as the farmers stuck to their demand of taking out the on Delhi’s Outer Ring Road.
Talking to reporters after the meeting, Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav said police officers wanted farm leaders to take out their rally outside the national capital, which was not possible.
“We will carry out our parade peacefully inside Delhi. They wanted us to hold tractor rally outside Delhi, which is not possible,” said Yadav, who is participating in the ongoing agitation.
Sources said police officers tried to convince protesting farm unions to hold their tractor rally on the Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) Expressway instead of the Outer Ring Road.
Enacted last September, the three laws have been projected by the Centre as major reforms in the agriculture sector that will remove middlemen and allow farmers to sell their produce anywhere in the country.
However, the protesting farmers have expressed apprehensions that the laws will pave the way for eliminating the safety cushion of MSP and do away with the mandi (wholesale market) system, leaving them at the mercy of big corporate firms.