As farmers threaten nationwide shutdown, Centre may amend laws: Report
Ahead of the fifth round of talks between representatives of protesting farmers and the government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly held a meeting at his house Saturday. At the meeting, Modi and his Ministers discussed the possibility of amending the contentious three farm laws, passed in September, that have sparked the biggest farmers' protest in years. The farmers demand a withdrawal of the laws.
Centre may amend laws; Modi briefed about changes: Report
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar met at Modi's house, sources told NDTV. The Centre may consider amending the contentious laws, they said. Modi is said to have been briefed about the changes ahead of the government's talks with farmers at 2 pm at Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan, where Tomar and Union Minister Piyush Goyal will be present.
What are the farmers protesting about?
For months, farmers have protested the laws and their agitation intensified over the past week as thousands of farmers from several states staged the 'Dilli Chalo ("let's go to Delhi") protest. Farmers fear that by allowing trade outside APMC mandis, the laws will weaken the mandis and they would be deprived of Minimum Support Prices (MSP), leaving them vulnerable to exploitation by big corporations.
Farmers threaten nationwide shutdown on Tuesday
Farmers have called for a nationwide shutdown on December 8 and threatened to block all roads leading to Delhi. The farmers have already cut off major entrances to the national capital. The All-India Motor Transport Congress—an umbrella body of goods' vehicles operators representing 10 million truckers—has called a strike from December 8. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has also threatened a nationwide stir.
Government to consider some demands
The government has defended the new laws, claiming that they will benefit farmers. It has given farmers assurances on MSPs, even as it has refused to meet the demand of giving this assurance in writing. Tomar had said on Tuesday that the government will consider some demands, such as further strengthening APMC mandis, grievance redressal in courts, stubble burning, etc.
Government alleges misinformation campaign by farmers
The government has also maintained that the farmers are being misled by misinformation. Junior Agriculture Minister Kailash Choudhary said Saturday, "Farmers' doubts will be cleared in today's meeting with the Centre. In recent meetings, some issues were clarified. It's politics by Opposition...they're instigating the protest."
Talks with farmers remain inconclusive
Previously, farmers and the government have held four rounds of talks. Two such rounds of talks have fallen through this week. During Tuesday's meeting, the farmers had made a 39-point presentation on the inadequacies of the laws. The farmers have refused any amendments have demanded that the laws be completely withdrawn. Meanwhile, the government has asked them to call off the protests.