Describing the farm unions’ decision to return to the negotiation table as “good step”, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Sunday expressed hope that a solution would be found to the stalemate over the new farm laws through discussions.
“Main ummeed karta hoon ki kisan paristhiti aur kanoon ki sachchai ko samajhenge, vaarta hogi, aur uska samadhaan niklega (I hope that the farmers will appreciate the situation and the reality of the law; talks will take place, and a solution will be found),” Tomar told The Indian Express.
Asked about the farm unions’ proposal of holding the next round of talks on December 29, Tomar said, “Vaarta hogi (Talks will take place).”
“They have written a letter; it is a good step. We were already ready for talks; we will resolve the issue through negotiations,” he said.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of 40 farm organisations, on Saturday wrote to the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, announcing the resumption of talks. It also proposed a four-point agenda for the talks that include modalities to be adopted for the repeal of the three central farm Acts; mechanisms to make the remunerative MSP recommended by the National Farmers’ Commission into a legally guaranteed entitlement for all farmers and all agricultural commodities; amendments to be made and notified in the Commission for the Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020 to exclude farmers from its penal provisions; and changes to be made in the draft Electricity Amendment Bill, 2020 to protect the interests of farmers.
Speaking on the occasion of the Jairam Thakur government in Himachal Pradesh completing three years, Rajnath Singh said: “Ek badaa dushprachaar yeh bhi kiya gaya ki kisanon ki zameen contract farming ke madhyam se chheen li jayegi. Main punah kehna chahunga ki koi bhi ma ka lal kisanon se unki zameen nahin chheen sakta (There is major propaganda that the land of farmers would be taken away through contract farming. I would like to say again that no one can take away the land of the farmers).”
In reference to the Opposition’s criticism of The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, Singh said: “Whatever agreement will be with the farmers will be about their produce, not their land.”
On MSP, he said: “A misconception is being deliberately created in some parts of the country that our government wants to end the MSP. It has never been the intention of this government to abolish the MSP, nor will it ever be.”
Singh appealed to farmers to observe the impact of the new laws for “one-two years”.
The last round of talks between the government and farm unions was held on December 8, when Home Minister Amit Shah had met with 13 representatives of farm unions. A day after this meeting, the Centre had sent a written proposal of concessions to the protesting unions, which they had rejected in an email sent on December 16.