No Repeal of Laws, says government; Farmers say, Nothing Less
- I.S. Saluja
NEW DELHI (TIP): The January 8 talks between protesting farmers and government of India failed to resolve the ongoing deadlock over three farm laws with the eighth round of talks ending inconclusively and the next scheduled for January 15. The government appears to have pinned hopes of a resolution on the Supreme Court that will hear the matter on January 11 even as farm union representatives ruled out option of impleading in the case.
“We will win or die” was the message on the placards representatives of 41 farm unions held at the meeting where they refused to break for lunch reportedly upset over ministers arriving 40 minutes late for the talks.
“We are not going to vacate the sites of agitation even if the Supreme Court directs us to,” farmer leader Darshan Pal said after the meeting as unions vowed to escalate mobilization for the January 26 protests.
Agriculture Minister NS Tomar said after the meeting that no consensus could be reached today as farm unions did not offer any alternatives barring repeal of farm laws. The government categorically ruled out rescinding the legislations with Tomar noting that “many other farm groups nationally are in support of the laws”. The minister said the Centre was committed to the directions of Supreme Court, whatever these might be. He, however, said no proposal was made to farmers to implead in the ongoing SC case.
Farmer leaders on their part maintained that Tomar had suggested in the meeting that the union leaders could petition the apex court if they found the farm laws unconstitutional.
“We will not be party to the case as that will delay the matter,” said farmer leader BS Rajewal, who opened the dialogue on behalf of farmers on January 8, saying the Centre did not have the right to legislate on agriculture, since it is a state subject.
BKU’s Rakesh Tikait said farmers were ready to protest till 2024 and hold as many rounds of talks as the Centre had to offer. “If we can go to jail 350 times, why can’t we talk to the Centre 350 times?” he said.
Meanwhile, a Canadian MP’s presence at Farmers protest is being investigated by government. The MEA on Friday said it had noted reports about the presence of Indo-Canadian MP Ramandeep Brar at the farmers’ protests at Kundli on January 2. Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the government was “ascertaining the fact”. Brar was backed by DSGMC president Manjinder Singh Sirsa.
5K volunteers for traffic control
With the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha keen on a massive tractor rally in Delhi on Republic Day, process has begun to recruit thousands of volunteers from different states to regulate the traffic for the march. Farm bodies believe around 5,000-10,000 volunteers will be needed to control the traffic.
It is understood that there will be no shortage of volunteers, as many organizations have come forward with the offer of lending a helping hand. The organizers , however, will screen every single volunteer to ensure that there is no infiltration of government agents or anti-social elements. They are aware that all attempts will be made by the government to discredit the farmers, who have already been labeled as anti-nationals, Khalistanis, Naxalites and even Pakistanis.
(With inputs from TNS)