Farm unions spurn govt invite, say nothing in writing

Published on Apr 04, 2022 04:50 PM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on November 19 last year that his government would revoke the three contentious farm laws, leading Parliament to repeal them. He also proposed a committee to scrutinise the farmers’ demands, following which farm unions had called off a 13-month-long agitation.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which led a massive agitation last year, has rejected the Union government’s offer to take part in a proposed committee to examine agricultural issues. (ANI PHOTO.)
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which led a massive agitation last year, has rejected the Union government’s offer to take part in a proposed committee to examine agricultural issues. (ANI PHOTO.)

Farmers’ platform Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), which led a massive strike last year, has rejected the Union government’s offer to take part in a proposed committee to examine agricultural issues, saying the government’s invitation came through a “phone call” without anything in writing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced on November 19 last year that his government would revoke the three contentious farm laws, leading Parliament to repeal them. He also proposed a committee to scrutinise the farmers’ demands, following which farm unions had called off a 13-month-long agitation.

The agitation spread across several states had brought tens of thousands of farmers on to the streets, but did not impact the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s performance in recently concluded elections in five states, including bellwether Uttar Pradesh.

The scrapping of the laws had created an opportunity for farmers to re-engage with the government after 11 rounds of failed talks.

“There is nothing in writing. There was a phone call (from the government), asking us to nominate two members. This is the cavalier attitude,” said Darshan Pal, a farm leader.

According to the SKM, on March 22, agriculture secretary Sanjay Agarwal made a phone call to farm leader Yudhvir Singh, inviting two-three names for a committee to be formed on the prime minister’s instructions.

“The verbal communication failed to clarify basic details, like details about the committee, its members, its mandate and even terms of reference. Have you heard of any committee without written terms of reference,” Hannan Mollah, an SKM leader said.

An agriculture ministry official declined to comment, since the matter was still under consideration. He however said the ministry was working towards creating the panel as “it was an official commitment”.

On December 7 last year, the Centre had sent draft proposals to end the agitation.

In the letter, the Centre said it would set up a committee mandated to “ensure how all farmers can get minimum support prices (MSP)”. A legal guarantee for MSP is one of the main demands of the farm unions.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Zia Haq reports on public policy, economy and agriculture. Particularly interested in development economics and growth theories.

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