Farmers’ Protest Live Updates: The Centre and protesting farmer unions will resume talks today with the latter sticking to their position that the discussion can only be on a four-point agenda including modalities of repealing the laws and providing a legal guarantee on minimum support price. The farmers have been camping at the borders since November 26 against the three farm laws.
Ahead of the crucial sixth round of talks after a three-week hiatus, Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal on Tuesday met senior BJP leader and Home Minister Amit Shah. Sources said they discussed and finalised the government’s position for the meeting, news agency PTI reported. A day earlier, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reaffirmed that the Centre has no intention of scrapping the minimum support price (MSP) regime, and that no “ma ka lal (no one)” can take away land from the farmers.
But in its letter on Tuesday, the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, the umbrella organisation which represents the farmer unions, said the modalities for repealing the three contentious laws and a legal guarantee on minimum support price (MSP) must be part of the agenda. The Morcha further said the agenda should also include 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.
The fifth round of talks was held on December 5, while the sixth round originally scheduled for December 9 was called off after an informal meeting of Home Minister Shah with some union leaders failed to reach any breakthrough. The government had, however, followed up Shah’s meeting with a draft proposal sent to the unions in which it had suggested 7-8 amendments to the new laws and written assurance on the MSP procurement system. It has ruled out a repeal of the three agri laws. In a letter to the farmer unions, Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Aggarwal on Monday invited them for the talks at 2 pm on Wednesday at Vigyan Bhavan in the national capital.
The farmers had also written to the government on December 26 listing the agenda. In the latest letter, the Morcha pointed out that in its December 26 communication to the government, it had mentioned “changes” by mistake instead of “withdrawal” in the Electricity Amendment Bill 2020. Farmer unions also deferred to Thursday their proposed tractor march against the contentious agriculture laws, so that the rally does not clash with their talks with the government.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, referring to the targeting of infrastructure during demonstrations and movements, said this amounts to hurting the country, its “poor and common people”. While exercising democratic rights, he said, “we should never forget our obligation to the nation”.
Inaugurating the New Bhaupur-New Khurja section and the operation control centre of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, the Prime Minister said dedicated freight corridors will allow farm produce to reach destinations faster and benefit everyone, from industry to businesses, farmers to consumers.
In an address via a video link, Modi said: “Our past experience tells us that the development of the country’s infrastructure should be kept away from politics. The country’s infrastructure is the path of its development, not that of a party’s ideology. It’s a mission to benefit many future generations, not five years of politics. If political parties have to compete, there should be competition in the quality of infrastructure, competition on speed and scale.”