New Delhi: Following the immense success of the Bharat Bandh, that left no corner untouched nationwide on December 8, farmers’ unions have rejected the Centre’s draft proposal carrying amendments to some of the provisions of the controversial farm laws. The leaders stick to their guns in demanding repeal of the three legislations, while giving a call to further intensify the agitation in the coming days.
The written draft which was shared earlier this morning with the protesting farmers’ collectives “carried nothing new”, in terms of what the Centre had to propose, and hence it has been rejected, the farm leaders told the reporters on Wednesday in a press conference, called by Kisan Samyukt Morcha, at the Delhi-Haryana Singhu border.
If the government sends another proposal, the farmers’ groups are ready to have discussions over it, Jangveer Singh Chohan, a farmer leader, said while addressing the media.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah had called a select group of farm union leaders on Tuesday evening for a meeting in a bid to break the ice. The former had offered to submit a written note the next day which will include what the Centre had finally on offer for the protesting bodies.
The Centre, through its draft proposal, above all, agreed to provide a written assurance on minimum support price (MSP) to the farmers over their produce. The written note, signed by Vivek Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, and addressed to representatives of 13 farmers’ groups, also carried other suggested amendments to the contentious legislations.
For one, the Centre agreed to make necessary changes in one of the farm law that will allow the farmers to approach a civil court, in case of a dispute while doing business; in the present version, all such disputes are to be placed before sub-divisional magistrates (SDM) or collectors.
Among others, the Centre had also proposed to authorise the state governments for formulating rules towards the registration of the traders who were to enter into a trading business with any farmer. As per the passed law, anyone with a PAN card is permitted to purchase the farmers’ produce without paying fees applicable to the Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC).
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The ruling government, which has already held five rounds of talks with the farmers’ delegation but has failed in breaking the deadlock, also reasserted in its written note that the proposed amendment to the electricity law has been “put up for discussion,” and that “there will be no change in the existing system of payment of electricity bills of farmers.”
However, fed up with assurances and proposals to make amendments to the laws, the farmers have given another ‘Delhi Chalo’ call for December 14. On the same day, nationwide protests will be organised at district headquarters by those groups who will not be able to make to the national capital.
Ashok Dhawale, president, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), said that the written proposal was not only an “insult” to the protesting farmers, but also to the citizens of this nation – those who took to streets yesterday (on December 8) in support of the farmers during the historic Bharat Bandh.
He added that the farmers will accept nothing short of a “complete revocation” of the passed laws. However, that won’t be easy. “The government doesn’t seem to be going back on its pro-corporate policy decisions,” Dhawale said.
Giving an ultimatum to the Centre, the leaders also informed that they plan to block the Jaipur-Delhi highway “latest by December 12,” possibly in an attempt to mount further pressure on the Centre. For the same day, a call has also been given to make toll plazas countrywide toll-free.
Also read: 20,000 Protest Sites, 22 States: Farmers’ ‘Bandh’ Call Leaves No Corner Untouched
Wednesday marks the 14th day of the blockade of at least two entry-exit points to the national capital – Singhu and Tikri border – where the protesting farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are staying put, braving cold nights in protest. They have been joined by farmers from western Uttar Pradesh, who have amassed at the Ghazipur border, connecting Uttar Pradesh with Delhi.
On Wednesday, the union leaders gave a call to farmers from the nearby states to the national capital – Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh – to join the protesters at the border protest sites in the days to come. Those who can’t were appealed to begin an indefinite sit-in in their respective states, starting from December 14.
The leaders also gave a call to boycott Ambani-owned Reliance products and to gherao the residence and party offices of the legislators belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the coming days.