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Can begin MSP talks, but govt must create conducive climate: farmers

There have been 11 rounds of talks between the government and protesting farmer organisations so far. After the last meeting on January 22, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, who is leading the government in the talks, had alleged there were certain forces that wanted to the agitation to continue.

Written by Harikishan Sharma , Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana, New Delhi |
Updated: February 1, 2021 12:14:15 pm
Farmers protest, Farmers govt talks, Farm laws, MSP, farmer union, Indian express newsRashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh’s Shiv Kumar Kakka.

Days after the breakdown of their talks with the government, farmer leaders said on Sunday that while both sides are adamant on their positions on the repeal of the three laws, a discussion on the “MSP guarantee” could pave the way for the creation of a “conducive environment” that is a “must for talks.”

“MSP ko sarkar har meeting mein overlook karti rahi hai… baad mein baat karenge, abhi taiyyari nahin hai, yahi kaha hai,” national president of the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh, Shiv Kumar Kakka, told The Indian Express by phone.

“Teen kaale kanoonon par sarkar adee hui hai, hum bhi adey hue hain aur aage bhi adey rahenge. Sarkar agar MSP guarantee par baat karti hai, to andolan khatm to nahin hoga, lekin isse vatavaran anukool banega,” Kakka said.

“(At each meeting, the government has avoided a discussion on the farmers’ demand for a guaranteed minimum support price. It has said ‘we will talk later’, ‘we are not prepared now’. The government is adamant on keeping the three laws; we are adamant too, and will remain adamant. But if the government discusses the MSP guarantee, the agitation will not end, but it will at least lead to a conducive atmosphere.)”

Kakka spoke to The Indian Express ahead of the “emergency meeting” of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha held on Sunday evening. During the meeting, farmer leaders took stock of the situation.

“The farmers have been protesting for the last 68 days, but the government has not given us a penny of relief. The laws have been stayed by the Supreme Court,” Kakka said.

“Itna bada andolan hua, lekin pradhan mantri ne ek tweet tak nahin kiya hai. Kal all-party meeting mein bhi pradhan mantri ne krishi mantri Narendra Singh Tomar ki baat ko hi doharaya hai. (Despite such a big movement, the Prime Minister has not even put out a single tweet. Even at the all-party meeting yesterday, the Prime minister has merely repeated the words of Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.)”

There have been 11 rounds of talks between the government and protesting farmer organisations so far. After the last meeting on January 22, Tomar, who is leading the government in the talks, had alleged there were certain forces that wanted to the agitation to continue.

Joginder Singh Ugrahan, president of BKU Ugrahan, said on Sunday, “Whether MSP should be the main issue for talks or the three farm laws, but first a conducive environment should be created by the government… They have arrested so many youths from Punjab, Haryana, UP, Delhi, and even Bihar. All farm leaders have been booked as well.”

Farmer leader Naresh Tikait said on Sunday that protesting farmers would honour the dignity of the Prime Minister, but they were also committed to protecting their self-respect, PTI reported.

The government should “release our men and prepare an environment conducive for talks”, Naresh Tikait said, according to PTI. “A respectable solution should be reached. We will never agree to anything under pressure.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on Saturday that the government’s offer to pause the farms laws “still stands”, and that Tomar was a just a “phone call away” if the farmers wanted to talk.

During the 10th round of talks on January 20, Tomar had offered to form a joint committee of government officials and farmer representatives to address grievances, and to keep the laws in abeyance for a year-and-half or until this committee submitted its report.

Declining to comment on Naresh Tikait’s statement, Harmeet Singh Kadian, president of BKU Kadian, said: “I cannot comment on the statement of Naresh Tikait… Regarding the initiation of talks, yes, I believe that MSP, a very vital subject, has not been discussed at length ever. Hence, even if talks happen on MSP to begin with, we will be keen to go, at least the deadlock will be broken. However, one must understand that repeal of farm laws remains the main issue…”

Rajinder Singh Deepsinghwala, general secretary, Kirti Kisan Union, said, “MSP is an important issue, but I feel that talks should resume with farm laws as the main subject, and MSP should be discussed alongside. However, we will question the intention of the government as well before going for talks…”

Buta Singh Burjgill, president, BKU Dakaunda, said, “We are always open for talks with the government… The government, however, needs to be very clear regarding their intention because the situation is no longer the same. There is a lot of negativity, protesters are being sent at dharna sites, farmers are being attacked… So first, let us have a comfort level of talking with each other…”

Prem Singh Bhangu, president, All India Kisan Federation (Punjab), said, “Police are pasting show-cause notices on the temporary structures at the morcha sites… Lookout notices in our names have been sent to the Punjab government. Still, we are open for talks with the government, as dialogue is a must to resolve issues…”

Prem Kumar Gehlot, president, All India Kisan Sabha (Haryana), said, “Whether we are ready to talk on MSP first, is not a matter of discussion… FIRs and police action is the main issue as of now.”

Sarwan Singh Pandher, general secretary, Kisan Mazdoor Sanghrash Committee, said, “We are ready to negotiate for the repeal of the farm laws, to enact a law to ensure procurement of crops by government. But before negotiating, the government should create an environment for negotiation.”

Satnam Singh Pannu, Punjab state president of the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, said, “We were ready to negotiate with the government on the issue of MSP and the repeal of the three laws. The government should create an environment for dialogue before negotiating.”

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