Rakesh Tikait and other members of a delegation representing farmers' unionsRakesh Tikait and other members of a delegation representing farmers' unions at Vigyan Bhavan on Friday. (Sanjeev Verma/ Hindustan Times)
Rakesh Tikait and other members of a delegation representing farmers' unionsRakesh Tikait and other members of a delegation representing farmers' unions at Vigyan Bhavan on Friday. (Sanjeev Verma/ Hindustan Times)

‘I think the agitation will continue’: Farmers' leader Tikait

  • Agriculture minister Tomar continues to remain hopeful that only discussions can pave the way for the implementation of the laws and resolve differences.
By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Shankhyaneel Sarkar
PUBLISHED ON JAN 17, 2021 04:57 PM IST

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait warned the government on Sunday that farmers will continue their agitation until the three farm laws are repealed. The farmers' leader also asked the government regarding its reluctance towards a total rollback of the laws even after witnessing massive protests for the last eight weeks at Delhi’s borders. “If a few lakh farmers are camping at the borders of Delhi, why is the government not repealing the farm laws? I think the agitation will continue,” Tikait was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Farmers’ unions' representatives and the Centre had held the ninth rounds of discussions on Friday to resolve the concerns raised by farmers regarding the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance, and Farm Services Act, 2020, and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020. Both sides failed to mitigate the issues and will once again meet on January 19 to discuss their concerns.

Farmers are demanding a total repeal of the laws but the Centre has clarified its position saying that they are here to stay and the government is ready for the long haul. Farmers’ unions' representatives have also declined to take up their grievances to the Supreme Court-appointed four-member committee. The top court had on January 12 formed a panel of four members to help the Centre and the farmers’ unions representatives reach an amicable agreement concerning the farm laws. Following the meeting with Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Piyush Goyal, who have represented the Centre in all the nine rounds of discussions, Tikait had announced that no farmers’ unions representatives shall discuss the issues with the panel.

The panel consisted of Bhupinder S Mann, president of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, president of Maharashtra's Shetkeri Sangthana, Anil Ghanwat; Pramod Kumar Joshi, the director for South Asia, International Food Policy Research Institute, and agriculture economist Ashok Gulati. Two days after the panel was formed Bhupinder S Mann, BKU president, recused himself from the panel citing that his duties lie with farmers of the nation and the farmers of Punjab.

Agriculture minister Tomar continues to remain hopeful that only discussions can pave the way for the implementation of the laws and resolve differences. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, he said that the government is ready to bring amendments to the laws and asked farmers unions’ to take an alternative approach rather than demanding a total rollback of the laws.

“We had sent a proposal to farmer unions in which we agreed to address their apprehensions regarding mandis and traders' registration among other things. The government has also agreed to discuss laws on stubble burning and electricity but unions only want the repeal of the laws,” Tomar was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Farmers are demanding a rollback of the farm laws passed during the monsoon session as they believe that these laws will affect the procurement of crop yields under government schemes like the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system. They also highlighted that the laws will aid corporate farming.

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