Farmers and Centre to talk today on MSP, repealing laws
For the seventh time today, protesting farmers will sit on the negotiation table with the government on the other end and they plan on sticking to their demand of repealing the three laws. They have added another demand — a legal guarantee on the minimum support price for procuring crops. Over the weekend, officials of the Agriculture Ministry prepared for crucial talks. Here's more.
Background: Centre is convinced laws will help farmers, they disagree
For more than a month, farmers have been sitting at Delhi borders, to protest against three laws that were passed in the Monsoon Session. They have rejected the Centre's arguments that these laws would help them earn more. Instead, they think they would be left at the mercy of big corporate players. The assurances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi haven't changed their opinions, either.
Last conversation ended on "positive note," said the government
The Centre and farmers spoke for the last time on December 30, with Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar saying the conversation ended on a "positive note." Tomar said both the parties agreed to exclude the farmers from the ambit of an ordinance on stubble burning, which is responsible for hazardous levels of air pollution during the winter months in Delhi/NCR.
Ordinance path can be taken to repeal laws: Umbrella body
During the last meeting, the government asked the farmers to come up with an "alternative to the repeal of laws" but the farmers haven't budged. On Sunday, the umbrella body AIKSCC spoke about the "non-complicated" ordinance route to revoke the laws. AIKSCC said the Modi government has to show the will. It's only a matter of a day or two, it said.
'Constitution allows government to make and repeal laws'
"AIKSCC clarifies that it can be done by an ordinance followed by a Parliamentary repeal and the Constitution provides for the government and Parliament to make as well as repeal laws. They are neither time-consuming nor complicated," AIKSCC Secretary Avik Saha said.
Farmers said a Bill concerning MSP has already been introduced
About the MSP's legal status demand, farmers drew attention to the private member's Bill, introduced by Lok Sabha MP Raju Shetti in 2018. "The Centre can easily adopt the Bill as a government Bill with certain modifications without tinkering with its essence, where it says no one can buy crops below MSP," Shetti, a former parliamentarian from the Swabhimani Paksha party, said.
Farmers plan to burn copies of farm laws on Lohri
Addressing the press at Singhu border, Manjit Rai from Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), hinted that the protest would further intensify. "On January 13, we have a Lohri program in which we will burn copies of the three farm laws. On January 18, we invite everyone to carry out protests as they deem fit," he said, adding that the use of force won't be tolerated.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, tear gas shells used against farmers
Separately, on the eve of the important talks today, tear gas shells were fired on farmers, mostly from Rajasthan, by the Haryana Police. The farmers intended to move toward Delhi. Confirming the incident, Rajesh Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Bawal, said protesters sought permission to set up langar, but instead started breaking barricades prompting the security forces to use tear gas.