Protesting farmers are 'open to talks' but want concrete proposal
Farmers, protesting at the borders of Delhi for nearly a month now, have replied to the Centre saying they are not averse to talks but the government should come up with a concrete proposal. They claimed dialogue will only restart if a repeal of three agricultural reforms is being considered. They added another demand for revising production cost which will eventually increase MSP.
On Wednesday at the Singhu border, Swaraj India's Yogendra Yadav read out the letter sent to the Centre. "We urge the government not to repeat those meaningless amendments which we have already rejected, but to come up with a concrete proposal in writing, so that can be made an agenda and the process of negotiation can be started as soon as possible," he said.
"We are waiting for the government to proceed with an open mind and clean intentions. We have been listening to the same set of amendments since December 5. We have told them that we don't want these amendments," Yadav added.
Reading out the letter sent to Vivek Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Yadav said the government failed to give a concrete assurance on MSP. "If the government sends a draft legalizing MSP, we will accept," he claimed. The farmers were also miffed with the fact that the government was talking to organizations not linked with the agitation.
Upping their ante against the Centre, the farmers asked why nothing was mentioned about the Essential Commodities Act and why no clarity was given on the Electricity Bill, 2020. Further, farmers' leaders emphasized that they didn't want "daan" (charity) but "daam" (money). In the reply, the farmers also said the Centre's response to the previous letters did not make them happy.
Additionally, the farmers slammed the government's attempts of trying to portray them as "separatists." This response was in connection to the letter written by Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar last week, wherein he asserted that those who were stopping the supply chain for soldiers weren't "farmers." The letter, also shared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, tried to explain how these laws will benefit farmers.
To recall, the Centre and farmers' unions have spoken five times but that didn't yield results. The government has also said it was ready to give an assurance about MSPs in writing, but the latest letter reveals farmers want more than that. Earlier, Tomar, who is leading the dialogue from the Centre's side, said reforms in the agricultural sector will continue.
Meanwhile, as a part of the Centre's mega outreach program, PM Modi will speak to farmers tomorrow and will also release the next tranche of the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme. A payment of Rs. 18,000 crore is expected to be released. He plans to discuss the advantages of the three laws with farmers and also take feedback from them on the ground realities.