Ready to strike.

Ready to strike.

Farmers threaten ‘Kisan Parade’ in Delhi on January 26 if demands not met

Next talks with govt on Jan 4; hope on both sides to resolve issues

Agency Report | New Delhi | 2 January, 2021 | 09:50 PM

Protesting farmers threaten to hold a Tractor rally on Republic Day as demonstrations around the national capital's borders escalate. "We have given a call for a tractor parade towards Delhi on January 26. The tractor parade with national flags on January 26 will be called ''Kisan Parade''. The announcement comes just two days before the next round of talks with the Centre to resolve the deadlock. Thousands have been camping on the outskirts of the city since late November, demanding repeal of three laws. The protesters said they chose Republic Day "because it represents the supremacy of the people of India", and also January 26 will mark the completion of two months of the biggest protests in the farm sector in years. Meanwhile, more than 850 faculty members of various educational institutions across the country have come forward with a signature campaign in support of three contentious farm laws. Six round of talks have taken place between the Union government and the farmers' unions so far. While a consensus was reached on issues related to the environment and Electricity Act, the deadlock continued on the two main demands, legal assurance on Minimum Support Price (MSP) and complete rollback of the three farm laws. The next round of talks will take place on January 4.

After the last meeting of the government and farmers led to positivity and breaking of bread together, it appears that the over month-long deadlock may be resolved on Monday. Sources on both sides have indicated a thaw with a meeting ground on some of the most contentious issues emerging.

The government may well be ready to offer amendments to the MSP and APMC issues in writing.

As per the government and farmer sources, Monday will see a big breakthrough after more than six rounds of talks between the two parties have been held. The sticking points of MSP being retained and APMC may well see a resolution.

In addition, at the ‘mandis’, the private players who are procuring will not be able to procure below the MSP. The dispute redressal system between the private players and the farmers will not be done by the SDM anymore.

These have been some of the major demands of the farmers. Farmers do not want to be dragged out of their workplaces to run around needlessly to sort out issues.

Moreover, clause 6 which has stirred up heaps of controversy – over no market fee or cess or levy, by whatever name called, under any State APMC Act or any other state law, to be levied on any farmer or trader or electronic trading and transaction platform for trade and commerce in scheduled farmers’ produce in a trade area – could well see some resolution.

The two sides have not been able to reach a compromise for over a month as some of the farmer groups have been demanding a repeal of the three farm laws passed by Parliament.

Last week, there were signs of some forward movement as the government accepted two demands of the farmers related to environment and electricity laws.

After the sixth round of talks held earlier this week, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar assured the farmer union leaders that the government is committed to resolving farmers’ problems and both sides need to take steps forward to arrive at an amicable solution.

Tomar assured the farmer unions that MSP and mandi system will continue like before. The demand of the unions for an MSP law and the difference between MSP and market rates for agricultural produce would be referred to a committee when it is constituted.

On the demand for repeal of the farm laws, the minister said that this too can be referred to a committee which will study the constitutional validity and propriety keeping in mind the welfare of farmers.

Regarding the Air Quality Management Ordinance and the Electricity Amendment Bill, Tomar said that suggestions of the farmer unions have been agreed to in principle. Tomar assured the farmers that the government has an open mind and is willing to resolve all issues with clear intentions.

Farmer organisations under the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, after a meeting at Singhu border, on Friday said that if the talks with the government on January 4 fail then they will intensify the protest and hold a tractor rally on January 6.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) General Secretary Harinder Singh Lakhowal said, “The topics of the next round of talks with the government were discussed in the meeting. The government has agreed to our two demands, but two important demands are yet to be discussed on January 4. If these two demands are not negotiated during the talks with the government, then a tractor rally will be taken out on January 6.”

Friday marked the 37th day of the farmers’ protest against the Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Production and Facilitation) Act, 2020; Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020. The farmers are demanding withdrawal of all the three laws, while the government has agreed to amend the laws as per the suggestions of the farmers. The farmers will be taking up the issue during the 6th round of talks with the government. (IANS)