How conversations froze: Center says we gave in, farmers insist cancellation has always been a key requirement

Written by Harikishan Sharma, Manraj Grewal Sharma | New Delhi |

Updated: December 15, 2020 2:56:47 PM

Peasant union leaders arrive in Vigyan Bhavan for the fifth dialogue with the government, in New Delhi on December 5, 2020. (Explicit Photo: Amit Mehra)

On October 13, the First Item in the memorandum issued by Protestant peasants was the demand for the annulment of the three Central Farm Laws It happened in a controversial session of Rajya Sabha the 20 of September.

Today, December 9, after six rounds of negotiations, with more than 20 hours of discussions, protests on the streets of Punjab, Haryana and the capital, peasant leaders returned to emphasizing the same item.

This lack of movement has hardened the split and poses the main challenge as both sides work on their next steps.

Officials in the Government claimed that they had “yielded” and given “assurances” based on exactly what the peasants had asked for during the negotiations in Vigyan Bhavan.

“They asked for assurances about MSP and tax equality and the judicial process. If cancellation was the only requirement, then what was discussed during six rounds?” Said a senior government official. “We gave the assurances the peasants asked for.”

Not quite, say farmers.

In fact, they point out that the cancellation requirement was consistent along with hard wiring MSP into the law and it is the government that has taken over.📣 Follow Explicit Explanation at Telegram

In the first negotiation with the Center held between 29 representatives of the Punjab agricultural unions and Union Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal on October 14 in Krishi Bhawan, peasant leaders made a chain of demands.

These included repeal of the farm laws and the Electricity Amendment Act of 2020; legally ensure government acquisition of a minimum support price; withdrawal of the Electricity Bill (Amendment), 2020; withdrawal of registered cases against activists and protesters; and implementation of a Swaminathan Commission report to fix MSP using C2 + 50 percent formulas.

Jamhuri Kisan Sabha general secretary Kulwant Singh Sandhu said: “In the first conversation we gave a letter to the secretary who said our eight demands. These demands included repeal of three farm laws.” He said this was never taken away. from the table.

Even a memorandum signed by about a dozen agricultural union representatives and presented to Agarwal on 14 October, mentions this among their demands.

After the fifth conversation with the Center on 5 December, farmers reiterated the cancellation demand. Even when Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar announced that the government is ready to reconsider some of the provisions of the farm laws. samyata (level playing field) between the APMC mandates and private markets, farmer leaders have hardened their stance.

“We mobilized people on the issue of cancellation. We have decided not to return until the repeal of three laws and withdrawal of two bills, ”Sandhu told The Indian Express.

Earlier, during protests spread across the Malwa region of Punjab, on July 27, up to 11 unions traveled by tractors from their respective villages and presented memoranda to their MPs against the then remote ordinances.

The protests had a big push when on 19 August all 31 Punjab peasant unions, including khet mazdoor (field workers) unions, decided to cooperate.

Their memoranda to the Prime Minister and Punjab government also largely focused on the issue of repealing the ordinances and guaranteeing MSP.

Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar speaks to media outlets outside Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on 5 December 2020. (Explicit Photo: Amit Mehra)

The protests intensified after the three laws. On 23 September all 31 farmers ’unions announced‘ rail rock ’activity since 1 October, along with dharnas outside shopping malls, petrol pumps of companies and even outside the residences of BJP leaders.

This was again accompanied by a growing demand for repeal of the three laws. There was also a consensus that if the government guaranteed the continuation of MSP – by law – and APMCs, in addition to making amendments to regulate the private players, the farmers would be reassured.

However, after the peasants reached Delhi. the maximum cancellation requirement has hardened. “The Government heard what they wanted to hear,” said a peasant leader. “We always wanted these laws repealed.”

A section of officials in the government attributed the stubbornness of the peasants ’stance to the presence of leftist leaders in the negotiating team. “They have strong ideological opposition to the Government,” an official said. “They will never give in, there are more than 35 representatives and leftist leaders dominate the discourse.”

The government hopes it can get rid of some of these groups among the 35, but given the united front they have presented, rejecting government assurances and asking for repeal, this may be a challenge.

Clearly, the mislines are created.

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