Protesting farmer unions Monday agreed “in-principle” to a government proposal for holding the next round of talks on the new agricultural laws on December 30, but insisted the agenda of the meeting should include discussing modalities for repealing the three legislations. The farmers’ acceptance of the proposal came hours after the Centre sent them a letter suggesting December 30 as the date for the dialogue, against December 29 the protesting unions wanted. Abhimanyu Kohar, a member of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha — an umbrella body of 40 unions protesting against the contentious legislations — said the farmers have agreed to go for the meeting on the date proposed by the Centre. “In our letter sent to the government on December 26, we had clearly mentioned that repeal of three farm laws and legal guarantee for MSP should be part of the agenda for fresh talks, but despite this, the government in letter today has not mentioned any specific agenda,” Kohar told PTI.
But, we have agreed in-principle to hold talks with the government,” he said. The All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) in a statement said the protesting farmers want the meeting to include four specific agendas including “modalities to be adopted for the repeal of the three Central farm Acts”. However, the government has used “vague and unspecific language”, indicating its willingness to discuss the full agenda items proposed by farmers, it alleged. The government’s latest invite followed a proposal made by unions last week to hold the talks on Tuesday, December 29, on agenda including modalities for the repeal of the three laws enacted in September.
Kohar said the government proposing to hold the talks on December 30, instead of agreeing to farmers’ suggestion of December 29, exhibits the Centre wants show who is in command. Meanwhile, the Singhu border where thousands of farmers have been camping in protest against the new laws since November 28, visibly swelled up on Monday as new protestors joined in over the weekend.
Navigating the highway-turned-township became challenging with the pathways being cramped as tractors and trolleys of new protestors occupied more and more space at the protest site. Having already completed one month, the farmers said they were prepared for a long haul, and that essentials such as food and clothing are coming in in sufficient quantities to sustain their agitation.
Apprehensive that the new laws will lead to the elimination of the MSP regime and the mandi system, the farmers have been demanding the three legislations be repealed. The government, on the other hand, has been projecting the laws as major reforms in the agriculture sector. Several farmers who had gone to their villages after spending a few days at the protest sites have returned with their families.
Amrinder Singh from Patiala had gone back home on December 4, and returned on Saturday with his wife and sister. “More people are coming in, and to keep our fight going, each house in every village in Punjab is giving Rs 1,000.” “More people will be coming from Fatehgarh Sahib on January 2 after a religious event there gets over,” he said.