Govt buys itself time to negotiate, tells farmer unions to submit point-by-point objections

Farmers have been raising specific concerns for months, why has Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar called for ‘clause-by-clause’ objections, again?

farmers protest
Image: ANI

As expected the Union Government, via Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has perhaps bought itself time to be able to manage the farmers’ protest that is growing in strength and Tomar told the media that the Union government is ready to address concerns of farmers, once they bring the “issues they have”. The next round of talks with the farmers’ unions is scheduled to be held on Thursday December 3.

Once the farmers table the ‘specific issues’ they have with the farm laws the minister said, “We will try to resolve them. We had told them that if they come with clause-by-clause objections, we will try to address them.” He added that he also wanted a small group of about five people, who may represent and speak on behalf of farmers come for the meeting. However the farmers who were present in the meeting said they all will attend the next meeting together. There are lakhs of farmers protesting across the country and many thousands are already on dharna at the Delhi-Haryana border, and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. 




After the talks between the government and farmer representatives remained inconclusive on Tuesday, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) President, farmer leader Naresh Tikait, said a draft of the issues and concerns will be given to the government on Wednesday December 2. “Govt has started a conversation with Punjab, UP, Uttarakhand, Haryana & Delhi farmers,” he was quoted in news reports, adding that “till the next meeting on Dec 3rd, govt has time to brainstorm over the issues raised”. These ‘specific issues” related to the three new farm laws, if submitted by Wednesday will be discussed in the next round of talks on Thursday.

However, as hinted by the Prime Ministers’ firm stand on the issue, it seems that that government is firm that the new laws cannot be repealed. His speech which seemed to be in support of the laws passed and so far, suggests that the government is unlikely to roll back: The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the farmers that the “new agricultural reforms have given farmers new options and new legal protection and the old system will also continue if someone chooses to stay with it.”  The PM said the criticism seen now “is based on mere apprehensions” adding that “confusion is being spread in society about what has not happened yet, which will never happen” .

On Tuesday, it was reported that the government had proposed formation of a committee to discuss contentious provisions of the farm laws with protesting farmers. Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Union Railway’s Minister Piyush Goyal, had met the representatives of the lakhs of farmers on December 1.  According to a report by News18, Chanda Singh, one of the farmers leaders, who was at the meeting with the ministers, and other government officials confirmed that the talks will continue, as will the massive Farmers Protest. “We discussed a lot of issues. We will have a meeting day after tomorrow. We will continue with our protests,” Singh was quoted after the December 1 meeting that took place after a six-day deadlock between the government and the farmers. The Agriculture minister had proposed December 3 as the original meeting date a few days ago. Now the union ministers also “asked farmer union leaders to nominate members to be part of the proposed committee which will also include agricultural experts and government representatives.” 



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