‘Not an astrologer’: Tomar on January 4 meeting, farmers to intensify protest if demands not met
Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday said while he hopes for a positive meeting with the leaders of the protesting farmers’ unions, he can’t say whether the seventh round of talks between the Centre and the farmers will be final. “I cannot say for sure now. I am not an astrologer. I am hopeful that whatever decision would be arrived at (in the meeting) will be in the interest of the country and of the farmers,” the minister told news agency PTI.
After five failed attempts to break the ice between the Centre and farmers over the recently passed farm laws, the sixth meeting held on December 30 yielded some positive results as the Centre conceded to farmers’ demands regarding electricity and stubble burning. Farmers have demanded a legal guarantee of the minimum support price system, which the Centre has not agreed to. More discussion will take place on January 4 though there are slim chances that the situation will be solved as farmers are pursuing their demand of repealing the laws which the Centre is unlike to do.
The farmers, meanwhile, have decided to intensify their agitation if their demands are not met on January 4. Saying that only five per cent of their demands have so far been discussed, farmer leaders on Friday said they will announce dates for shutting all malls and petrol pumps in Haryana.
Farmers protesting at Shahjahanpur on the Haryana-Rajasthan border will also move towards the national capital, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav said. Another leader Yudhveer Singh said that a tractor march will be held on January 6 if no concrete decision is taken in the next round of talks.
Meanwhile, more than 850 faculty members of various educational institutions, including Delhi University, Banaras Hindu University, JNU, have written an open letter in which they have supported the farm laws, PTI reported. “The Union government has repeatedly assured the farmers that these three bills on farm trade wouldn’t do away with Minimum Support Price (MSP), but rather free the farm trade from all illicit market restrictions, open the market beyond ‘mandis’ and further assists the small and marginal farmers to sell their produce at market/competitive prices,” the letter said.