Govt Proposes to Put Laws on Hold for 1.5 Yrs, Farmers to Consider
The next meeting between farmers’ unions and the government will be held on 22 January.
The central government, during the tenth round of talks with protesting farmers in New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on Wednesday, 20 January, proposed to submit an affidavit in the Supreme Court to put on hold the three farm laws for one-and-a-half years.
The Centre also offered to create a committee, having both government and farmers' representatives, which would look into farmers' demands and submit a report.
According to news agency PTI, the farmers’ unions remain “firm on their demand for repeal of laws” but are “willing to discuss the government’s proposal.”
The protesting unions will consider the proposal on Thursday, and the next meeting between them and the government will be held on 22 January.
What the Agriculture Minister Said
Following the meeting on Thursday, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar reportedly said that he felt the “talks are progressing in the right direction”.
According to ANI, Tomar said:
“During discussions, we said that the government is ready to put on hold the farm laws for one or one-and-a-half years. I’m happy that farmer unions have taken this very seriously and said that they would consider it tomorrow, and convey their decision on 22 January.”
“I feel that talks are progressing in the right direction and there is a possibility of finding a resolution on 22 January,” Tomar added
The Union Agriculture Minister also said, according to PTI, “It will be a victory for Indian democracy the day farmers' agitation ends.”
On whether the legal guarantee for MSP will also be taken up by this panel, he said "aspects related to the protests will be discussed".
Notably, the proposal to keep the farm laws in abeyance for one-and-a-half years also needs to be seen in light of the Punjab Assembly elections that are scheduled to be held early next year.
What the Farmers’ Union Have Said
All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Hannan Mollah on Wednesday said that a meeting will be held among the farmer unions on Thursday and a decision will be taken on the government's proposal.
Darshan Pal Singh, farmer leader, also reiterated the government's proposal, saying, “We said we will consider it.”
According to a statement by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, the government, during Wednesday’s meeting, also assured the farmers that people associated with the movement will not be harassed and intimidated using the NIA.
Further Mollah said, according to ANI, that they have “asked the government to withdraw fake cases registered by NIA against farmers”.
Among other issues, the note also informed that the farmers will discuss the 26 January Kisan Parade. However, the Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh Police have suggested alternatives and expressed their disapproval of the demonstration.
According to The Indian Express, the government will also soon be amending the Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance 2020. The ordinance was one of the sticking points in the talks between farmers and the government earlier, until an 'agreement' was reached.
Last week, the Supreme Court had already put the three contentious farm laws on hold for a minimum of two months and constituted a four-member expert committee to resolve the matter. However, the panel had been rejected by the protesting unions, who alleged that the members were pro-government.
In the meantime, one of the members, Bhupinder Singh Mann, had also recused himself from the committee.
The previous nine rounds of talks between the government and farmers over the farm laws had failed to break the deadlock, as protesting unions stuck to their main demand for repealing the new laws, while the government was willing to offer only amendments.
The Supreme Court-appointed committee held its first meeting on Tuesday. The committee had invited the protesting farmer bodies to meet with them on Thursday.
Anil Ghanwat, a panel member of SC-formed committee, told ANI, “Physical meeting will be held with those organisations who want to meet us in person. Video conferencing will be held with those who can’t come to us.”
Thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab and Haryana, have been protesting for nearly two months at various points of Delhi-NCR’s borders against the three farm laws enacted by the Central government in September 2020.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI and The Indian Express.)
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